Ragland reaches out to adults with developmental disabilities – Month long program teaches students the fundamentals of acting

(Excerpts from the Herald and News, Wednesday, October 1, 2014 by Nora Avery-Page)
During a brief reunion Tuesday morning, there were hugs all around between Amanda Squibb, the arts education coordinator at the Ross Ragland Theater, and her students Darci Peterson, Riann Parker and Billy Ichtertz.
Peterson, Parker and Ichtertz were students in a new program, taught by Squibb, for developmentally disabled adults through the theater.
The month-long program which ended in September, taught students the fudamentals of acting, with each week focusing on imagination, concentration and memorization, improvisation and pantomime, Squibb explained.
“It was a group of wonderful individuals who wanted to learn more about acting,” she said.
The idea for the program came about after Carrie Buck, the developmental disabilities program manager for Klamath County, had a vision of her clients performing a flash mob to the Michael Jackson hit “Thriller,” at a Third Thursday event in downtown Klamath Falls.
“Why not?” she asked herself.
There are not many opportunities for community involvement  for developmentally disabled adults, Buck said, so she decided to reach out to the Ragland in hopes of putting together some sort of program that would offer her clients a new opportunity.
The pilot program, which had 10 students, was a great success, Squibb said.
“It was just an absolute blast,” she said. “It was just so much fun. I can’t say enough positive things about it.”
Squibb’s students, like Peterson, shared similar opinions.
Sandra Anderson, an adult foster care provider to three women who took the class, also noted the program offered a new and different opportunity for developmentally disabled adults.
While programs like Special Olympics are great for disabled adults, there are few, if any, opportunities for people who are not athletic, including the women in her care, Anderson said.
“They all had a great time,” she said of the Ragland program. “They love the pretending, the playing and the fun.”
Buck is hoping to expand opportunities for her clients throughout the community, perhaps with yoga, karate or other programs. She is open to other ideas, as well, she said.