Talented Chichester College students celebrated winning an education ‘Oscar’ by showcasing their skills and hosting an evening of song and dance.
Theatre Inc. - a theatre company based at the college made up of students with learning difficulties and disabilities - took to the stage at the Minerva Theatre at Chichester Festival Theatre on Friday night, March 3, to perform ‘Shine’.
The show reflected the challenges and successes experienced by the performers in their day-to-day lives.
They explained their struggles, embraced their differences and celebrated their achievements through a number of performances, including songs, dance and dramatic readings.
It was an emotional and inspirational evening that saw the stars receive a resounding standing ovation, which reached a crescendo when the company was presented with the Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award for Inclusive Learning.
The award, regarded as an education ‘Oscar’, is sponsored by Microlink and the AoC Charitable Trust and their fabulous win was announced in November 2016 at the AoC Annual Conference.
Estelle Palmer, company leader and professional learning coach at Chichester College, said: “It was a wonderful celebration of talent and an example of what can be achieved when the opportunity is given.”
Theatre Inc. member Bryony Alexander added: “I am so happy that everyone has done so well.
“We work really hard and we really proved what we can do.”
Launched in 2015, Theatre Inc. provides vocational performing arts training that is tailored for students with learning disabilities, as well as developing their numeracy, literacy, communication and general life-skills.
The 20-strong company of performers live with conditions such as Down’s syndrome, autism and Asperger’s syndrome.
As part of Theatre Inc, they have the opportunity to develop skills as dancers, singers and actors.
They undertake high profile performances across the region and company members lead workshops for people of all ages, as well as delivering professional development training to help local employers better understand issues surrounding learning disabilities.
The AoC Beacon Awards celebrate the best and most innovative practice among UK further education colleges.
They reward colleges that go above and beyond in providing high-quality technical and professional education.
Shelagh Legrave OBE, Chichester College Principal, said: “In education, winning a Beacon Award is something like winning an Oscar or a Bafta award.
“Theatre Inc. richly deserved their win and Shine was a perfect example of why - to see how far these talented performers have come is remarkable.
“They have grown in confidence and were able to put on the most wonderful set of performances.”
Company member Joseph Harrington summed up the event perfectly, simply saying: “Theatre Inc. changes lives.”
To find out more about Theatre Inc. click here.
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