Let’s discover an equitable arts education!

Program Overview

Student poet wearing a great t-shirt, seated in his wheelchair engaging with teaching artist Michelle Marigliano reciting the student’s original poem.

United We Discover aims to increase positive perceptions of Disabled identities, increase inclusion and equitable educational experiences in schools, and build connected communities.

United We Discover addresses:

  • The lack of arts opportunities for Disabled students, by bringing the arts directly to Disabled students in their schools
  • Negative perceptions of Disabled people, by delivering programs designed to foster respect, understanding, and connection
  • Low self-esteem often experienced by Disabled students, by providing opportunities for self-expression, new skill development, and feelings of accomplishment.
  • Separation of self-contained/special education classrooms and general education classrooms, by providing programs in which Disabled and non-Disabled students co-create art
  • Social isolation experienced by Disabled students, by fostering empathy and a sense of community among participants

Teaching Artists & School Partners

Each participating school will work with one lead teaching artist with expertise in working with Disabled students and/or personal lived experience as a Disabled person. School educators, the lead teaching artist, and YA staff will undertake a co-planning process to design a suite of programs that can include any combination of school-wide performances, in-depth residency work, professional learning for teachers, and family programming based on each school’s needs. In addition to core work with the lead teaching artist, schools can choose programming with visiting artists.

  • FY25 School Partners
    • Anna Iandoli Early Learning Center, Paterson NJ
    • Paterson School 15, Paterson NJ
    • Salome Ureña Elementary School, Newark NJ
    • Walter C Black Elementary School, Hightstown NJ
    • Paul Robeson Community School, New Brunswick NJ

Participant Population: Program services will be provided to allow for Disabled students and general education peers to have a shared arts experience. Program services can include arts based professional learning for teachers who work with Disabled students and general education students and Community Arts & Creativity programming.

Scope of Programming: Each school will select 2 performances and 10-15 workshop days, plus 1 planning meeting.

Documentation: Young Audiences has contracted with an external documentarian to film the impact of the programming.

Evaluation: Young Audiences has contracted with an external evaluator to measure the impact of programming. Young Audiences will partner with schools to secure necessary research and data sharing requirements.

Program Timeline

August – September 2024 –  YA staff and school educators will identify the lead teaching artist. The selection process includes educators sharing student and curricular needs, YA education staff and educators discussing multiple options for lead teaching artists, and a brief interview process before schools finalize their decision. YA education staff will conduct site visits to support and monitor programming.

August-October – We will conduct the co-planning process with lead teaching artist, school educators, and YA education staff. Because United We Discover is school-driven, the artistic and educational goals for each residency are set by the schools with support from the artist. We foster relationships with teachers where input and feedback create a strong partnership.

October-June – Programming and assessment framework will be implemented in schools with the lead teaching artist and any visiting teaching artists. Programming will offer Disabled and non-Disabled students the opportunity to experience professional performances and co-create art in workshops. Educators will work with teaching artists to develop skills in leading inclusive arts and anti-bias lessons, extending the program’s reach. YA education staff will conduct 3-4 site visits/school to support and monitor programming. If desired, the funder is welcome to observe programming during a site visit approved by the school.

Smiling dance student wearing gray shirt with blue stripes, with smiling paraprofessional wearing gray hooded sweatshirt.

This initiative is funded in part by an Inclusive Healthy Communities Grant from the Division of Disability Services, New Jersey Department of Human Services and by a Grant for Arts Projects from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)