From an artist parent:
Dear Dr. Andy and Kathy,
I wanted to let you know how much you have done for our son and our family. He was a sweet, obedient and caring little boy. When he started school he became another entirely different child. He was bullied and treated terrible from Kindergarten through sixth grade and it completely changed him. He became very angry and his desire to have friends overwhelmed him.
Our son has changed so much since he has started his role as Benny Southstreet in “Guys and Dolls.” He has confidence, he has friends and he is happy. He has been accepted by all who are involved in the production. He has not been happy in years. Now when you ask him how he is, he says, “I am happy”. I have said so many times, “I want my son back.” A couple of weeks ago I heard myself saying, “My son is back.” He and I have not laughed and had fun together in many years, but we have been having fun and laughing the past few months. Thank you!
I often look at the mentors and wonder how you got them involved because most young people only want to tease disabled people. I hope that each mentor knows how much they do for the artists. Not only do they help them remember their lines and when to cheat, but they also give them friendship and make them feel like they are people. Many times I have seen mentors walk in the door and be hugged by every artist they walk by. These mentors do not run the other way; they hug as they walk in the door. Even on bad days (which we all have), they don’t snub anyone. After so many years of my son being bullied and teased, seeing this makes my heart rejoice.
Even though penguins cannot fly, my penguin has flown around the world and now knows that people are different and not all people are mean. Again, thank you for doing what you do and showing my son and everybody involved in your productions that people are good, caring and accepting. Watching people, young and old, treat my son meanly I too had forgotten how caring and understanding some people can be. Thank you for giving my son confidence, friends and his happiness back.
A Thankful Parent
From an artist and mentor parent:
Dr Andy, Kathy and all,
Just want to let you know a mom’s perspective………….
This year we have two of our children involved in the Penguin Project, our son as a mentor, and our daughter as an artist.
Our daughter had such a positive experience in Beauty and the Beast that she couldn’t wait to start rehearsals this fall for Fiddler! When she gets home after practices, she confidently demonstrates the dances and songs she is learning. Her involvement with Penguins has given her a sense of community and purpose as well as a great topic for conversation. She proudly tells EVERYONE about Penguin Project and has probably already packed the house from all her personal invitations! She will always make random comments about Fiddler (totally unattached to the topic at hand) which means it is always forefront on her mind.
Our son is a senior in high school and an incredibly busy guy. We had no idea how he was going to fit Penguin Project into his schedule which includes, cross country, quiz team, Madrigals, Youth Symphony, National Honor Society Club, Morton orchestra and the String Prelude Ensemble, ETC….. Our son was very moved when he watched his sister perform in last year’s performance and decided it would be worth it all to be a mentor this year.
All this to say, thank you for the investment you make in the lives of young people in my family and in our community. Your hours are long and your patience is endless as you move the group toward performing. The end result is something very moving/powerful. It is no wonder that our children wanted to be a part of something that impacts so many people.
Our heartfelt thanks.
An Artist and Mentor Mom