IDEAS: Interactive Drama for Education and Awareness in the Schools
After freelancing as a teaching artist for many years while separately volunteering with youth and adults with disabilities I.D.E.A.S. founder Lisa Dennett was curious about combining those two worlds.
Informal inquiry in 1994 of the students with disabilities she worked with revealed that they were not participating in theater at their schools - if theater even existed. Knowing that these young people relied on creative avenues to learn deeply. Being a certified American Sign Language interpreter she had close ties to the Deaf community and established a program specifically for Deaf and hard of hearing teens. This grew to what is now known as I.D.E.A.S.' Sociodrama program.
With the success of that program it was clear other young people with disabilities could benefit from using theater in the classroom, with the goal of enhanced learning, not just about theater, but about whatever subject was presented. The program was offered through a nonprofit sponsor.
As requests came in for more programs and programs for younger children Interactive Drama for Education and Awareness in the Schools, Inc. (I.D.E.A.S.) was formed with programs not just for teens, but for ages 5-21 and not just for Deaf and hard-of-hearing students, but students with a myriad of disabilities. I.D.E.A.S. has since expanded to work with to bring creative improvisational drama programs to schools and after-school settings serving youth with disabilities and/or other disadvantages at the heart of a well-rounded education that focuses on the individual. Feedback from students, teachers and parents have always informed programs and reach.