An idea that began in Illinois has taken root in the Golden Isles. That idea is helping empower kids, teens and young adults with developmental disabilities in our area.

This weekend, the Penguin Project will present the musical “Shrek, Jr.,” at the Ritz Theatre in downtown Brunswick. The Penguin Project was developed by Andrew Morgan, a professor of pediatrics, and allows young people between 10 and 25 years old with developmental disabilities to get the chance to explore their creative side through performance.

This will be the third year the Penguin Project has put on a local performance. In its first year, the project put “Annie Jr.,” followed by “Peter Pan Jr.” in 2018. Both of those performances were well- received by the community.

If you are planning to attend “Shrek, Jr.,” we encourage you to get your tickets now so you don’t miss out on what is sure to be an excellent and heart-warming night at the theater.

Performances will be held at 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. on Sunday at the Ritz. Advance tickets are $10 for Golden Isles Arts and Humanities members and $15 for nonmembers. Prices go up $5 on the day of the show. Tickets can be purchased at www.goldenarts.org or by calling the Ritz at 912-262-6934.

We encourage everyone who can to come out and support such an important endeavor. Young people with developmental abilities deserve to have the opportunity to explore their creative sides. Whether it is writing, painting or in this case performing on stage, the arts have always been about expressing yourself. Creative outlets allow all of us to show the world what we are thinking and how we are feeling.

Expressing that may be a challenge for some that have developmental disabilities. They may feel they are supposed to shun the spotlight because of their issues. It is important for them to know that they have the same right to express themselves as the rest of us.

If you need to see how a program like the Penguin Project can help, just look at some of the performers like Daniel Jackson, who will be playing Shrek in this year’s performance. It will be his third time performing in a Penguin Project production.

“It’s just a fun experience,” the 25-year-old said. “And my best friend, Will (Ours) is playing Donkey, so we’ll be best friends on and off the stage.”

We are grateful to Allyson Jackson, Daniel’s mother, and Heather Heath, executive director of Golden Isles Arts and Humanities, for bringing the Penguin Project to our area. We also tip our hat to the volunteers that help make the performance possible.

Our creativity is one of the things that has allowed us to thrive for so long. Everyone deserves a chance to let their creativity shine.

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