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Nonprofit View: Barrier-Free serving adults with disabilities through the arts, social programming

Barrier-Free is a non-profit, 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 (ITC) where our actors come together to create, rehearse, and perform original one-act musicals. Barrier-Free’s 2020-2021 ITC season begins September 14th for Company A, adults with intellectual/developmental disabilities and autism. Company A rehearses on Mondays from 6:30-8 p.m. at The Westminster Community Center on 25 Union Street.

Company B, for adults with autism, begins rehearsals on Wednesdays starting Sept. 16. Rehearsals are also 6:30-8 p.m. at The Westminster Community Center.

Our 2021 performance weekend is March 13-14 at McDaniel College Theater. Saturday’s matinee performance begins at 1 p.m. with an evening performance at 7 p.m. March 14 concludes the season with a final matinee performance at 1 p.m.

There are other opportunities to get involved sooner than this!

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 and much more! At Barrier-Free, we believe that offering a social group is crucial to fostering a thriving and interconnected community.

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.

Each Monday, the Carroll County Times publishes a column from a local nonprofit, allowing them to share information about their organization and the issues facing it, as our editorial. To be considered, email cctnews@carrollcountytimes.com with the subject line “Nonprofit View.”

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