Memorial Opera House Foundation, in partnership with The Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Indiana
in Valparaiso and The Penguin Project®, a national non-profit organization dedicated to providing
theatrical opportunities for differently-abled children have announced a callout for artists and
mentors. The first-ever, inclusive theatre production in Indiana, Annie Jr., will premier on September 23
and 24, 2023, setting the stage for fun and acceptance for families of children with different abilities.
Directors Lindsey Elderkin and Heather Chaddock invite artists with developmental differences and
mentors who will help teach and perform alongside the artists at an Informational Night on Monday,
April 24, from 6-7:30 PM at The Boys and Girls Club of Greater Northwest Indiana – Valparaiso Club,
located at 708 Evans Ave, Valparaiso, Indiana, 46383.
Elderkin said, “As a mom of twins, with one of my daughters on the Autism Spectrum, I’m so grateful
this outlet now exists in our community. Candidly, there have been times where we’ve felt a little
socially isolated because of my daughter’s differences, and I’m sure other parents and siblings have
felt the same. This production allows developmentally different kids time to be with their peers in an
accepting environment while also nurturing social skills and creative talents. Our mentors will also learn compassion, patience, and the gift of new friendship.”
The Informational Night will provide details to parents about registration, the rehearsal process, and
performances. It will also serve as a test-run rehearsal for artists and mentors with music, games, and
“We are encouraging artists with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, Autism Spectrum Disorder, ADD
and ADHD, learning disabilities, or other neurological or developmental disorders to come out and
have fun. Learning how to express yourself artistically, and having the chance to do so, is an important
part of growing up. We are so excited to offer this experience in an inclusive, accessible environment
for local families,” said Chaddock.
All rehearsals and performances will be held at the new Boys and Girls Club of Northwest Indiana in
Valparaiso. Differently-abled artists should be ages 8-21. Volunteer mentors should be age 18 and
under. There is no cost to participate.
For more information about the Penguin Project, visit penguinproject.org. Questions about the
Informational Night can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.