Music spills into the hallways of the Metropolitan Multi-Service Center on West Gray, filling the space with holiday cheer. Children and adults with disabilities are rehearsing for their end-of-the-week performance, Audition Boot Camp Summer 2019 Showcase, set to music from the classic Christmas comedy, Elf.
Each summer, The River Performing and Visual Arts Center, part of Theatre Under the Stars (TUTS), opens its doors to students with disabilities ages 4 and older who want to participate in a musical theater day camp. Siblings are welcome, too. Six one-week camps are offered over the course of the summer.
The River, which merged with TUTS in 2010, was founded by Cathy Binstock in 1996 to give her youngest daughter, Samantha, a chance to take ballet lessons. Samantha has mild cerebral palsy.
“Samantha wanted to take dance classes just like her sisters,” said Eileen Edmonds, assistant director of education at The River. “Every dance school turned her away, so her mother decided that every child deserves the richness of an arts education and she started The River.”
Edmonds brought her own son to The River 12 years ago. Francisco, now 18, was born with 16q deletion syndrome, a rare genetic disorder.
“He was naturally drawn to music as an infant,” Edmonds said. “I brought him to the summer camp and it helped to bring him out of himself because he loves to sing and dance.”
The program that started with one dance class and seven ballerinas has grown into a fine arts mecca offering music, movement, acting and visual art classes. More than 35,000 students have participated.
“The camp provides our students an opportunity to shine on stage,” Edmonds said. “Students come in here and they may not verbalize or be able to expressively respond to you, but oftentimes, where they don’t have that difficulty is with singing. What happens when you combine music with movements that cross the midline of your body—like dance—it helps create new neuropathways between the two hemispheres of your brain.”
Beyond taking part in the summer programming and classes offered throughout the year, River participants also have auditioned and appeared in several TUTS performances, including Beauty and the Beast, Oklahoma, The Addams Family and Seussical.
“Because of the merger with TUTS, we have been able to expand our programming to include adults and that has been so meaningful to us because we felt horrible when our students aged out of the program,” Edmonds said, adding that some of the adult students have gone on to become camp counselors and assistant directors.
Today, Francisco, Samantha and their siblings still participate in The River programs. Each end-of-the-week performance, Edmonds said, allows the participants to shine.
“Our students are so confident and brave by the end of camp,” she said.
Memorial Hermann Sports Park, a new sports medicine and human performance facility on the campus of Memorial Hermann Katy Hospital, opened this past weekend. Learn more: https://t.co/HouQEszaCU. #sports #sportsmedicine https://t.co/PFeyxV28wb
“We believe the development of this unified platform with @VarianMedSys will enable expansion of our #radiation oncology standards,” says our @ACKoongMDPhD: https://t.co/LKvVxj7GHy #radonc #endcancer
CHI St. Luke's Health@CHI_StLukes
Ready for Game 4 of the #ALCS? Experts from @bcmhouston and Baylor St. Luke’s share health tips to get you through the @astros playoff series. #HoustonAstros #TakeItBack @SeragHashem @isulapas @CBallantyneMD https://t.co/jjIXwSMRWO
@dollymad1812 @ScrippsHealth We're so sorry to hear this. If you'd like to share more details, please send them to email@example.com, and include your friends full names so we can look into this. You're in our thoughts.
.@UTHealth welcomes new members to its Development Board: https://t.co/EId51KaDBF #ManyFacesOfUTHealth
UTHealth banned vaping on campus including university owned student housing due health concerns almost 10 months ago. https://t.co/lDFzEBBCsq
RT @McGovernMed: Brushing up on leadership skills: https://t.co/AwlQjEfGP3 https://t.co/m44TVtOEpZ
“I'm a huge believer in always biopsying the first site of metastatic disease, especially to recheck the ER/PR and HER2 status,” says our @JenniferLitton of how data shows #breastcancer can change with metastasis. #bcsm #endcancer https://t.co/DzL4k31aQn
We have gone purple this week for Domestic Violence Awareness month. Learn how you can help: https://t.co/CxrGw0N0S9 #domesticviolenceawareness #domesticviolenceawarenessmonth https://t.co/2S19KMnHOh
Meet the people behind the papers – George Britton and Aryeh Warmflash: https://t.co/9DTjXt8Iow via @Co_Biologists https://t.co/4boMPVOMg0
Weston spent his summers training for the upcoming football & basketball seasons. When his mom noticed he was losing steam, they decided it was time for a trip to the doctor's office. They never expected it to be cancer. Read Weston's story: https://t.co/4CEbwUWpi5 #ThisIsCancer https://t.co/w6Nun5rKkI
RT @WebsEdge_Health: ASHG TV sat down with Brendan Lee, Professor & Chairman, Dept. of Molecular & Human #Genetics @bcmhouston to learn mor…
Join us for the "Grill Your Ace Off" event this Saturday, October 19 with Cypress @AceHardware! Proceeds benefit @CMNHospitals: https://t.co/UeNuaDzp9h
A new technique developed by Rice bioscientists has allowed them to make the most comprehensive analysis yet of signaling pathways that drive patterning of human ectoderm.Read more: https://t.co/fmCDuInplI https://t.co/6iBO8MfaCI
University of Houston@UHouston
RT @GetInvolvedUH: Join us for InfraRED: Spooktacular TONIGHT from 7:00-10:00PM in the Student Centers Houston Room. This year’s activities…