“Mamma Mia, Mamma Mia ... we want Mamma Mia.” That was the cry from the 18 young people who attended the Arts for All music workshop at the Y Annex on October 5.
So “Mamma Mia” will be the focus of the next workshop on Saturday, Nov. 16, 10 a.m. to noon at the Y Annex, located beside the Child Care Center at the Boothbay Region YMCA complex.
Led by Y-Arts Director Emily Mirabile, the group will rehearse and then film several songs from “Mamma Mia.” After a snack break, Joel Biron and Courtney Chaney will get out their dueling ukuleles and teach the group the hit song “Keep Your Head Up,” by Andy Grammer.
The program is free to all participants, but please sign up by calling the Y at 207-633-2855.
Arts for All is a program of the Arts and Humanities Department at the Boothbay Region YMCA, especially designed for young people ages 8-48 with intellectual disabilities.
It meets five times during the school year, and is open to all who can follow one-step directions. No one-on-one or med-certified staff is available, but adult and young Y-Arts volunteers work with the group, and caregivers and family members are always welcome.
Releasing the artistry within us all is the aim of this program.
Andrea Hutchins, a mother of one of the participants, said, “The arts play such a significant part in our family. It is so exciting to have a program for our son where he can now be more than a just "listener" or "watcher.”
“At Arts for All he can fully participate as a "performer" and feel the enjoyment that comes from doing,” she said.
Mirabile has been directing the group for the last two years. Her dedication to music as an art form, her enthusiasm and her ability to work with young people makes it easy for all who participate to respond.
“Music is a universal language and it is a gift to be able to share this language with the intellectually disabled. I am grateful to be given the opportunity to share my love of music and dance with all our participants,” Mirabile said.
Since 2011, Arts for All has been offering this innovative program that combines music, dance, movement and drama for young people with special needs. It is the only program of its kind in the state of Maine.
One of the purposes of the program is to integrate musicians with intellectual disabilities into the cultural and social life of the community.
Currently at least four of the high school students participating in regular Y-Arts programs volunteer at Arts for All workshops. “They get as much out of it as the program participants,” Mirabile said.
At each session the participants learn a new song, dance or theater game, or rehearse a skit from a Broadway musical. The group practices during the first half of the program, and then produces a short play that is video taped for all to see afterwards.
They learn new skills, explore creativity, and find new friends through music and dance.
“I like everything about it,” said Josh Strong, a young adult resident of Damariscotta who has attended three of the Arts for All workshops.
“I like the acting and being around all the friendly people, and I enjoy the music and dancing,” he said. Learning new steps? “No problem,” he said.
On October 5, the group of 18 young people, some from the Boothbay Region Elementary School, others from the Rocky Coast Group Home and the LEAD Program in Damariscotta, worked on a skit adapted by Emily Mirabile from “The Little Mermaid.”
Previous productions have included skits from “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Wizard of Oz.”
During the winter season, Arts for All will meet every third Saturday in February, March and April, learning new songs and dances for a special production at the Boothbay Playhouse later in April.
Friends and family are invited to attend. Watch for more details on this exciting event.
Arts for All is a free program, thanks to the generous donations of friends of the Y. All are welcome.
"The special arts program ties in with the Y mission goal of reaching 100 percent of the youth in our community. We can't do that unless we reach those with special needs," said Anne Barker, a Y board member and volunteer for the Arts for All program.
For more information, or if you would like to donate to a designated fund to support the Arts for All program, please contact Doris Welch at the Y at 207-633-2855.