Disability Issues

Red Kite Round Up engages autistic children

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Red Kite Round Up is back for its third year with a new multi-sensory performance that is tailored to meet the needs of children with a wide range of autism.

Last year's month long performances from Chicago children's theater Red Kite Round Up was a success.

"It's an interactive, multi-sensory experience, so the actors are trained to work with kids with autism to get them to participate and to be part of the experience just for that moment in time," said artistic director Jacqueline Russell.

This year's theme is camping and hiking.

"I had a lot of parents tell me that their kids with autism haven't been able to go on a camping trip with their Cub Scout Troop or that maybe there's just too many things that are unknown that would make it not as comfortable or fun so we recreate it in a very controlled environment," Russell said.

The Red Kite Round Up starts February 1-20 at Millennium Park in the Pritzker Pavilion. There are only 10 kids per performance.

"You can go online to TheRedKiteProject.org and there's an online registration form and you fill out that information and you receive a call back from our concierge," Russell said. "We really work to make the families and the schools as comfortable as possible."

Mary Belliveau's 11-year-old son Jacob is coming back this year. She said the experiences changed her son's life.

"Jacob had a very tough time socially with children and with adults," Belliveau said. "We came to this performance. The performance was just fantastic, they allowed all the children to come up. He was very social with the performers."

"I cried throughout almost the whole thing because it was just fantastic and it made me learn that Jacob was able to be a little more social then we once thought," Belliveau said.

Since then, Jacob has continue to grow.

"He's more social," Belliveau said. "He actually initiates social behavior with other children and I think it all stems from this first experience that he had. It was really enjoyable for him."

"When I got more into it, I just started more likin' it more and more," Jacob said.

Now he has his future mapped out.

"I still want to be an actor or something like in my own TV shows and movie because of all this," Jacob said.

Starting on February 1, performances are Tuesday through Sunday at difference times. Tickets are $10 each. If you are interested in attending a performance, now is the time to reserve tickets.

For more information, visit www.theredkiteproject.org.

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