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Dr. Phillips Center Announces First Sensory-Friendly Show

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January 12, 2015– Orlando, Fla. – The Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts announces its first sensory friendly show on January 17, 2015 in the Alexis & Jim Pugh Theater and the launch of a ‘social story’ video and book that will aide children on the autism spectrum in attending any performance at the Dr. Phillips Center. The video and book will be available on the Dr. Phillips Center website, drphillipscenter.org. The book is available as a downloadable PDF and on iBooks. 
The first sensory friendly show at the Dr. Phillips Center will be Spencers: Theatre of Illusion followed by the Hocus Focus workshop. Spencer’s Hocus Focus workshop serves students with special needs by teaching simple tricks as a way to help students develop fine and gross motor skills. Says Spencer, “These little tricks are also effective in helping them reach some of their educational goals while improving attention, concentration, memory, task-follow through, frustration tolerance and more."  Funded in part by a grant from South Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Florida Department of State, Division of Cultural Affairs, with support from the Winter Park Health Foundation, the Dr. Phillips Center was able to fund not only the Spencers residency and sensory friendly performance but the creation of a social story video and book. A social story is a tool used by educators and parents to help children on the autism spectrum practice a behavior and prepare for an activity or outing.   
Students from Access Charter School and OCA, both organizations that serve children with autism, will attend the invitation only sensory friendly performance and 25 students will engage in the Hocus Focus workshop. During the performance OCA staff and volunteers will run a ‘quiet room’ at the Dr. Phillips Center for students that need to take a break.  In preparation for the event, Dr. Phillips Center’s education department and creative team produced a video and book for parents, teachers and children that helps people with autism attend any event or performance at the arts center. Five Access Charter School students performed in the video, shooting scenes in and around the Dr. Phillips Center. 
The students’ performances in the video are outstanding and our team had an incredible time working with these talented kids,” says Kathy Ramsberger, CEO and president of the Dr. Phillips Center. “Our generous sponsors paved the way for us to create these tools and partnering with Access Charter School and OCA was a great connection point for the community. Because of this collaboration people on the autism spectrum will be able to attend and enjoy the Dr. Phillips Center for years to come.” 
About Access Charter School
Access Charter School is a 6 – 12 grade exceptional education program designed to meet the needs of students diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and students with significant cognitive and social skill delays and their families. With a commitment to outstanding academic, vocational, and functional life programs it is our mission to provide each student an educational environment which fosters understanding, compassion, and respect. Through partnerships with students, families, and the community Access Charter School is dedicated to meeting the individual education, social, and emotional needs of each student. It is with this commitment that our students will be prepared to live meaningful and productive post-school lives. Visit: accesscharterschool.org. Contact: Roger Watkins, principal. 
About OCA
OCA, a special place for special needs, enables individuals and families with autism or other disabilities the opportunity to maximize their abilities through functional, behavioral, social, recreational and vocational programs to live within the community. Visit: gooca.org. Contact: Shelly Langdon, marketing director. 
About Spencers: Theatre of Illusion 
Kevin and Cindy Spencer, known professionally as The Spencers, are among the world’s most recognized magical performers. They have mesmerized millions of people with sold out performances in 19 countries on 5 continents. And they have left a trail of accolades in their wake. They have been named Performing Arts Entertainers of the Year an amazing six times and, in 2009, were bestowed magic’s highest honor, the Merlin Award for International Magicians of the Year joining the ranks of Henning, Copperfield, and Penn & Teller. Today, The Spencers tour with one of the largest theatrical illusion shows in the nation. And they are some of the most respected artists in their field.  Kevin Spencer is the co-founder of Healing of Magic and the author of the Hocus Focus curriculum for special education students.

Kevin Spencer has committed his life to magic both on stage and off. When he’s not working with his crew to set up a show, Spencer can be found spreading the word about the therapeutic and educational benefits of learning magic for persons with a variety of disabilities. He is widely considered the leading authority on the functional and academic benefits of the art of illusion. HEALING OF MAGIC uses simple magic tricks as a form of rehabilitative therapy. HOCUS FOCUS integrates magic tricks into the classroom as a way of motivating students in the learning process. Both projects have an international reputation with published research in leading scientific journals. Spencer received the Harry Chapin Award for Contributions to Humanity in recognition of his work in healthcare and education. Visit www.spencersmagic.com.   

About South Arts
South Arts was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. They offer a portfolio of activities designed to address the issues important to our region and to link the South with the nation and the world through the arts.
They work in partnership with the state arts agencies of Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. South Arts is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, member states, foundations, businesses, and individuals.
About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. Visit arts.gov.