Alumni Spotlight: RACHEL

 Rachel (far right) and the cast of our very first production, Romeo & Juliet in 2011

Rachel (far right) and the cast of our very first production, Romeo & Juliet in 2011

When A.B.L.E. started in 2010 at GiGi's Playhouse, we had just 7 young actors. Most of them have grown up in our program, and now we are at a crossroads where those same fresh-faced teenagers are ready to graduate, not just the Chicago Public School system, but also our core teen ensemble.  After 6 years, 10 plays, and 3 films, Rachel became the first actor to reach this important milestone. We celebrated her time with A.B.L.E. after the curtain call for our production of Twelfth Night at Chicago Shakespeare Theater in May 2016 (see video below). But what's life been like since then? 

Rachel loved so many things about being a part of ABLE Ensemble. She loved the camaraderie that she felt with her fellow actors and the opportunity to explore her ability to express herself creatively. We definitely saw her confidence grow as a performer and that confidence crossed over into her everyday interactions with people. She developed a real love for language through ABLE even though it is one of the challenges she faces everyday - communicating with people in a way that they understand her. 

After graduating from high school Rachel was accepted to the PACE program at National Louis University. I think her favorite part of PACE has been living in the dorm and all the freedom that comes with that. 

I think the most challenging part of her transition to college living was all the expectations of living independently. I believe the skills that she honed while participating in ABLE such as confidence, expressive language, and centering ones self before performing enabled her to meet the challenges of transitioning to independent living.
— Rachel's Mom, Nancy
 Rachel brought a group of her NLU/PACE classmates to the premiere of The Spy Who Knew Me

Rachel brought a group of her NLU/PACE classmates to the premiere of The Spy Who Knew Me

We are proud of the community we've built at A.B.L.E., and believe that this creative and social outlet is valuable for individuals of all ages. Seeing how Rachel's experiences in A.B.L.E. have helped her build resilience and face the challenges of adulthood, we are committed to developing programming that can serve other adults with developmental differences. Over the next year, we hope to launch a trial of this program, but we can't do it without your help.