January 18, 2022 Breaking News, Latest News, and Videos

UCPlay Project Engages Santa Monica Youth Through Puppets And Music:

In 2008, United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (UCPLA) identified a need within local schools to create a theatre and creative program for children of all ages with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities.

A pilot program called the UCPlay Project was established with two classes in 2008 at Walgrove Elementary School with just 14 students.

Today, the program has grown to be such a success that it has assisted close to 1000 children in four school districts across Los Angeles.

The Program Manager of the UCPlay Project is Olivia Karaolis, who teaches at 20 schools each week reaching 350 students. Nine of those are within the SMMUSD.

At these nine SMMUSD schools she provides 15 classes weekly that range from preschool to high school students.

She is assisted by two part-time instructors, Cydney Shindel who teaches the program at Palos Verdes and Whittier, and Michael Cappelli who teaches at Samohi and four new school sites in LAUSD.

“Education is the most important form of intervention for children and young adults with special needs,” Karaolis said. “For this reason I designed a creative arts program that focused on teaching social and communication skills. The program was to be based in schools, working with teachers and students. This marriage of the field of special education and the performing arts reflects my background, I was an actress for 10 years and then pursued by Masters in Special Ed.”

When she goes into a classroom, she engages with the students through highly interactive activities that involve sensory materials and music.

She said puppets model many of the activities, as they are easier for children with special needs to understand.

“I seek to assist students to learn the essential social skills of taking-turns, greetings, making requests, and sharing,” she said. “In my older classes we use film to give students lots of practice at interpreting the feelings and behaviors of other people. This is a huge challenge for many students who find it challenging to make eye contact, maintain personal space, or touch another person appropriately. One of my classes is making their own Social Skills DVD and another is making an episode of Top Chef complete with cooking challenges.”

She said the most rewarding part of her job was the interaction with the students and the teachers.

“I do have the most wonderful job in the world, especially when one of my students reveals a part of themselves that we had not seen before-and sharing that with their teachers,” she said. “I am very lucky to work with such incredible people. I have come from the other side of the world and found my home.”

Like any additional program introduced into the school district, the course is in need of funding to stay alive. UCP subsidizes the program, which also receives funding from the SMMUSD and the Santa Monica Education Foundation.

Karaolis said the non-profit received calls from many other schools and parents every week who want their child to participate in our program, but more funding is needed before it can expand further.

For more information about the program and details on how to make a donation, visit www.ucpla.org.

in News
Related Posts

Anti-Semitic Fliers Linking Jewish People to Anti-Vaxx Movement Posted at Santa Monica Schools

January 17, 2022

January 17, 2022

Police investigation incidents at Eddison, Will Rogers, McKinley and Grant elementary schools By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica police are investigating...

Demolition Delayed For Parking Lot 3 Due to Injunction: Santa Monica Beat – January 17th, 2022

January 17, 2022

January 17, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.*  New Covid Policies For SMMUSD Unvaccinated Students*  Demolition Delayed For Parking Lot...

Tsunami Leaves Santa Monica Undamaged

January 17, 2022

January 17, 2022

Volcanic explosion in Tonga sends small tsunami to West Coast over the weekend By Sam Catanzaro A tsunami that reached...

Tsunami Advisory Issued, Lifted for Santa Monica

January 15, 2022

January 15, 2022

Update: the National Weather Service canceled the tsunami advisory at 12:37 a.m. January 16. No damage expected for Santa Monica...

Santa Monica Vons’s Development Sees Design Changes

January 14, 2022

January 14, 2022

Santa Monica’s 710 Broadway development design changes shown in new renderings By Dolores Quintana The 710 Broadway Project developer has...

Bel Air Megamansion ‘The One’ Is Finally Being Put up for Sale

January 14, 2022

January 14, 2022

$295 million asking price for infamous property By Dolores Quintana The One, the most famous of all the megamansions and...

Burglar Arrested After Victim Recognizes Him Wearing Shirt

January 13, 2022

January 13, 2022

Mynor Calderon arrested in connection to January 6 incident By Sam Catanzaro.  Santa Monica police recently arrested a home burglar...

Pier Vendor Arrested for Burning Other Vendor With Oil From Hot Dog Cart

January 13, 2022

January 13, 2022

Arrest made in connection to November incident By Sam Catanzaro Police recently arrested a Santa Monica Pier street vendor for...

Santa Monica to Begin Accepting Applications for Families Displaced by Construction of Freeway and Civic Center

January 11, 2022

January 11, 2022

Below Market Housing for Historically Displaced Households pilot application window to open January 18 By Sam Catanzaro Santa Monica will...

Local Mountain Lions Show First Reproductive Effects of Inbreeding

January 11, 2022

January 11, 2022

“It’s quite severe,” says the lead researcher in UCLA study  By Sam Catanzaro UCLA scientists tracking two local mountain lion...

Cedars-Sinai Urges Blood Donations

January 11, 2022

January 11, 2022

As 2022 begins, Cedars-Sinai is facing a critical blood shortage and is encouraging prospective donors to give blood as soon...

Santa Monica Issues Permit for Second Medical Marijuana Dispensary

January 11, 2022

January 11, 2022

Dispensary would be located at 1416 Wilshire Boulevard By Dolores Quintana The medical marijuana dispensary Harvest of Santa Monica has...

Nearly 2,000 Tests a Day Available at New Santa Monica Covid Test Facility: Santa Monica Beat – January 10th, 2022

January 10, 2022

January 10, 2022

Local news and culture in under 5 minutes.*  Nearly 2,000 Tests a Day Available at New Santa Monica Covid Test...

NYC-Based Developer Finalizes Acquisition of Major Santa Monica Residential Development Site

January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022

Tishman Speyer to begin construction in late 2022 on its first LA-area residential project By Sam Catanzaro An NYC-based developer...