As a parent of a daughter with Asperger’s syndrome, I want to share Christie’s story.
Watching her sister on stage for KISS Theatre Co., she wondered if someday she could be up on that stage. Admittedly, I wondered too. Would she be capable? Would she be accepted? We decided to give it a try.
I spoke to artistic director and KISS co-founder Christa Manning, told her the circumstances and asked that maybe she would consider Christie in a small part. Her answer to me was, “No one has a ‘small’ part in our plays; every part is a big part.” Without hesitation, she and the rest of the cast welcomed her with open arms.
After the first performance, Christa pulled me to the side. I will never forget her words. She said, “I have to tell you something. I never thought I would have to turn a child away from our organization, but when Christie first started, I wondered if this was the right place for her. Let me tell you, she proved me so wrong. She is now the person we turn to when even I forget things.”
She went on to praise her and tell me how she noticed the change that this experience had made in her. She was a young girl who, at that point in her life, didn’t have many friends and had low self-esteem. Every child and every adult associated with KISS Theatre made her, for the first time in her life, feel like she belonged, like she was part of the crowd.
The cast put together a video to give to Christa explaining the impact that this organization has had in their lives. Most said, “I love it here because I can be myself and feel comfortable.” When they got to Christie, she said, “I love it here because I DON’T have to be myself.” Pretty deep concept, but it was just what she needed to break free.
Watching her confidence and self-esteem soar with each performance was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. Because of this organization, my daughter finally realized she can do anything. Anything!
KISS Theatre is accepting of everyone; it doesn’t matter what color, race, shape or size you are, or what disability you have. We finally have a place where our children can have some innocent fun, where they learn not only how to act on that stage, but also how to carry that same love, acceptance and positive attitude toward one another off of the stage. Don’t take this away from them.
Let them stay. Let them soar up on that stage, at a place they have come to love and call their “home.”