A message from our Executive Director, Kimberly Kadziolka
This past October, Parent Network of WNY was honored to partner with Unique Theatre Company to produce, “Our Voices, Our Words by Unique Voices”, a play that was a result of a collection of our community’s voices.
When we put out the call for submissions, we truly had no agenda and no expectation for what we hoped to get. But we were just astounded by the poignant responses we got. Some stories were so beautiful and hopeful, highlighting the success of the person with a disability. Some stores were angry, describing years of being different or, sadly, treated with disrespect. Some stories were filled with hope about possibilities and doing things that were never imagined. Some stories were heartbreaking and made you cry. And some stories were just matter of fact about living a regular life. They were all incredible.
The end result was a huge success. Even now, two months after the performance, I find myself reflecting on the show, and the transformative power that theatre has in our community. Theatre, with its unique ability to transcend barriers and foster inclusivity, holds immense benefits for the disability community. One of its primary advantages lies in providing a platform for self-expression and empowerment. Individuals with disabilities often face societal prejudices, and Unique Theatre offers a space where their voices can resonate, challenging stereotypes and showcasing their diverse talents. Moreover, participation in theatre cultivates a sense of community and belonging. The collaborative nature of theatrical productions promotes teamwork and mutual support, fostering connections that extend beyond the stage. Over the years we have seen true friendships develop between the actors, writers, directors, and stage assistants. The theatre becomes a transformative space where differences are celebrated, and everyone’s contributions are important to the collective success of the show.
Thinking about this year’s performance, what stayed with me the most is the educational price of this show. As an advocacy-oriented organization, we resonate with the powerful tool for advocacy that the performing arts provides. Theatre productions that address disability-related themes, like “Our Words, Our Voices by Unique Voices” raise awareness, perceptions, and contribute to the broader conversation on inclusivity. By portraying the lived experiences of individuals with disabilities, Unique Theatre has shown the ability to break down stereotypes and promote a more nuanced understanding of diverse abilities.
I look forward to Parent Network of WNY’s continued partnership with Unique Theatre and I am already so excited for next year Unique Theatre has become a transformative space in Western New York where differences are celebrated, and everyone’s contributions are integral to the collective success, which aligns so closely to our mission of empowering individuals with disabilities to reach their full potential.