The Cultivation of an Inclusive Community Through PYD’s Access to Theater Program

Held over the summer as a two-week camp and throughout the year as a weekend program, PYD’s Access to Theater (ATT) program is an award-winning inclusive theater program for teens and young adults whose purpose is to develop communication, artistic, and leadership skills, and lasting professional and personal friendships.

By focusing on original acting and improvisation, participants are able to explore many aspects of theater, including acting, directing, improvisation, choreography, music, costumes, set designs, and more. However, beyond the program resulting in a production that participants have created and developed themselves, ATT is about so much more than just the play.

Moe Finnerty, one of ATT’s Lead Teachers who started out in PYD programs as a young adult and has committed herself to helping youth in the program as a role model and artist, said it best: “It’s not about the play. It’s really not about the end product. We do the end product because they enjoy the end product. They have fun doing the end product and they can see their work, but it’s about the process.”

Whether participants are involved in the program for two weeks or an entire year, they’re all provided with the same opportunity and outcome: being a part of a consistent, supportive environment that gives them a creative outlet to express who they are and create a production they feel proud of. At the end of the program, participants grow not only as actors but as people, and have reported:

  • Feeling a part of an inclusive community
  • Exploring their own interests, talents, and skills
  • Building their self-confidence
  • Trying something that’s normally out of their comfort zone or may seem difficult to them
  • Improving their speech and communication

Not only does what they learn and work on throughout ATT set them up for success throughout the program but also throughout life. The skills, talent, creativity, and self-confidence they develop stay with them throughout their education, careers, and relationships, helping them to build and be a part of a more inclusive world.

The success of ATT throughout the past 30 years has all been possible thanks to our donors and volunteers. Please consider making a donation today to ensure the longevity of the program and guarantee the same results for future participants.