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Colgate University’s ‘The Oz Project’ educates and inspires young students

The Oz Project, at heart, strives towards the goal of creating an inclusive environment for all children. The program, currently in its fourth year, was formed to bring together differently-abled students and students who are typically developing in a common social space.

The Oz Project, at heart, strives towards the goal of creating an inclusive environment for all children. The program, currently in its fourth year, was formed to bring together differently-abled students and students who are typically developing in a common social space.

— After that, the entire group comes together for a group rehearsal followed by a sing-along of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” to close the day. College students, “munchkins,” and parents alike sing together before it’s time to part for another week.

This is the second year in which Colgate’s education department has offered a class that awards credit for organizing and implementing the many aspects of the Oz Project. Sophomore geology major and aspiring educator Spencer Wallach considers the class an invaluable experience. “I am learning how to deal with different issues as a teacher. This is priceless experience that I’m getting that I’ll be able to use with any student anywhere. It’s not limited to atypically developing kids, it’s for all kids,” he said.

Nichole Widrick is a mother of four children, all of whom participate in The Oz Project. She called her children’s experience in the project “magical.” “Each week the kids are more confident, proud and excited to be taking part in something that is so big,” Widrick said. “This program has proven that all individuals can grow together, learn together, live together and love together if we give one another value.”

The Oz Project puts on its production of “The Wizard of Oz” at 6 p.m. this Sunday, April 21, at the Palace Theatre in Hamilton. For more information about The Oz Project, visit sites.google.com/a/colgate.edu/the-oz-project-2013 or contact Sheila Clonan at sclonan@colgate.edu.

Terence Hartnett is an Eagle Newspapers contributor. He can be reached through the editor at editor@cazenoviarepublican.com.

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