We believe the theater is a great classroom, teaching children with developmental differences life skills that carry them into adulthood (and all while having fun)!

It started with a documentary.

People with developmental differences are often misunderstood, and society has a largely inaccurate idea of their limitations and abilities. My little sister, Emma, was born with Down syndrome, and I was quick to underestimate her abilities. After years of watching my mom make a way for her and seeing Emma arise to the occasion, I began to recognize how people with intellectual and developmental differences tend most often remain undermined and excluded.

But research suggests that providing society with information and contact, creates understanding and empathy, which are the two ingredients needed to transform negative attitudes into inclusive mindsets. That’s why the arts are so important.

During my senior year in college, I decided to make a documentary about this, featuring six performers with developmental differences. 1,200 people showed up to the premiere, and little did we know, that was just the beginning.

Now People Like Us is a non-profit helping other cities start arts programs for people with developmental differences.

We provide everything needed to develop and sustain performing arts programs for performers with intellectual differences - from on-site coaching to comprehensive curriculum - making it easy to give people with varying abilities the opportunity to perform and thrive. Simultaneously, through providing performers with an outlet for connection, confidence-building, and community, performers are given the opportunity to learn the professional and social skills required to best integrate into their communities.

Platforming performers with developmental differences provides the space for self-advocacy and the opportunity for people with varying abilities to transform society’s perceptions about themselves. We hope you’ll join us in giving people with developmental differences a platform and voice in your community.

-Kirsti Lewis, Founder

 
 
It gives me the opportunity to step out of my comfort zone and to show my talents to those who haven’t seen a special performance. Plus, It gives the audience an insight into our world that is slightly different than those of our peers. That’s what it shows: a connection of how we are the same as our peers. We just do things a little different.
— Lauren Modawell, Actress
 
 
 
 

90%

of parents reported growth in their child’s ability to communicate within their families.

 
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[My child] grew in empathy. He was pretty empathetic to begin with, but he is seeing more subtleties in non-verbal communication and body language from others. [He needs] fewer prompts to complete a given task at hand [and has more] confidence in his own ability to succeed.
— Parent of a Troupe Member
 

100%

of peer student performers reported they “strongly agree” that they became more comfortable with people who have developmental differences after participating

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It gives them a chance to express their ideas without the constraints of using language.
— Parent of a Troupe Member
 

Check out the other skills parents told us their children with intellectual differences developed through the troupe:

Expansion of self-awareness

Articulation

Greater confidence interacting with others

Following directions

Taking on new challenges

You provide the people and the place. We provide the coaching and curriculum.

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Personalized Coaching

We empower you through personal, on-site coaching. Upon completion, you are certified as a PEOPLE LIKE US Affiliate, join the network of PLU theaters, and maintain access to the online and physical resources required to keep your program rocking-and-rolling.

Comprehensive Curriculum

Our curriculum combines years of research, development, and expertise to equip you to teach, cast, rehearse, and platform performers with developmental differences. From waivers and applications to casting guides and twelve original scripts, this curriculum is an indispensable component to every troupe’s success.

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A Better Way to Build Your Program


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