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Nonprofit View: Barrier-free embraces those with varying abilities for one-of-a-kind shows | COMMENTARY

Barrier-Free is a nonprofit, disability service organization that provides inclusive art, self-advocacy, and social programming to the community for adults with disabilities. Our vision is to live in a world where inclusive programming models are seen in all aspects of life, allowing individuals of all abilities to feel valued and respected as contributing members of society.

Barrier-Free began with a desire to do and be better for our community. A desire to provide high-quality programming for adults with disabilities — built on the values of respect, transparency, and equity. A desire to take the inclusive theater model to a new level of excellence. A desire for change.

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We welcome each individual’s unique talents, personality, and diverse background. We come together to encourage, support, and value one another in a collective and creative environment. We produce our programming with the highest ethical standards and integrity. We are transparent, honest, and consistent in our communication and decisions as we understand how each action we take impacts all those connected to us.

We embrace the varying abilities that make up the Barrier-Free family. We understand and value that each actor has distinctive needs and strive to provide differentiated supports. Our programs are designed with equity to incorporate our actors’ strengths and talents.

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Barrier-Free shows are one-of-a-kind and born from the ideas of our actors. Our inclusive theater companies, classes, and programs provide an environment where actors and participants are encouraged to be their most creative, unique selves. We welcome it all!

We are most known for our Inclusive Theater Companies (ITCs) where our actors come together to create, rehearse, and perform original one-act musicals. Due to COVID-19, we transitioned our staged performances to feature films! Our Live Facebook and YouTube movie will premiere on Friday, March 26 at 8 p.m.!

We have three new classes coming up in the spring! Starting at the end of March, “Silly Songs with Music Mike” will be offered on Monday nights from 6:30-8 p.m. This is an original song composing class! In April, we have “Besties & Buds” on Thursdays, 6:30-8, where we learn to gain and nurture fruitful friendships!

And finally, back in-person, we have our Spring Social Series on Wednesdays in April from 6:30-8! This is a weekly social skills group complete with real-life, authentic practices!

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There are other opportunities to get involved too! Every month, Barrier-Free hosts a social club. Social Club’s mission is to provide fun, safe, and welcoming opportunities for individuals of diverse abilities to come together and enjoy all our community has to offer, foster new friendships, and develop a sense of confidence and independence in our society. Outings have included: Meltdown DiY Art Studio, Hershey Park, Dave & Buster’s, Screamland Farms, Ski Liberty, and much more! At Barrier-Free, we believe that offering a social group is crucial to fostering a thriving and interconnected community.

We even offer free Zoom Social Clubs in lieu of in-person social clubs during COVID-19. We’re getting back out there this summer though! Stay tuned!

Barrier-Free’s inclusive design brings together people of all abilities and we invite you to take part! Check us out at www.BarrierFreeMD.com. We also encourage you to visit our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/BarrierFreeMD. Questions? Email us at info@BarrierFreeMD.com for answers!

Together, we can create, express, and achieve

Britt Burr is the founder and creative director of Barrier-Free.

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