The Oz Project Builds Confidence in Children through Music, Dance and Drama

The Oz Project, an arts-based program for children of all abilities, works hand in hand with the Colgate community. Students enrolled in Assistant Professor of Educational Studies Sheila Clonan’s Education 332: Disability Difference and Inclusion class as well as 12 additional Colgate volunteers assist with the Oz Project this semester. Servingchildren in the Hamilton, Sherburne, Madison, Morrisville and Cazenovia areas, the Oz project uses music, dance and drama games to encourage children to build self-expression, confidence and positive regard for others regardless of their individual abilities. The drama activities are designed to promote belonging and social connection.

Clonan describes the value of this program for children in the local community.

“Many children who are differently abled have relatively few recreational activities available in these rural towns, which is why we draw from such a wide area,” Clonan said. “The Oz Project provides a safe and positive environment to learn about and appreciate difference.”

Through the Oz Project, Colgate students in EDUC 332 are able to directly apply classroom knowledge. In class, the students study theory such as differences in social development, inclusion, drama and other inventions, and enact it through the planning of their own weekly workshop program. The students serve as group counselors and with the children every Wednesday and see first hand how to facilitate positive social interaction in a situation of diversity.

Senior Jeanie Sauter, an EDUC 332 student, explains that though the class is rigorous, it is refreshing to put material into action, and to do something for others.

 “For once we are able to go into the community and help others while helping to better ourselves,” Sauter said.

Clonan speaks of the great mutual opportunity for both the children and Colgate students.

“The children love the opportunity to be with Colgate students,” Clonan said. “Additionally, participating Colgate students learn the value of ‘giving back’ to the community through this incredible undertaking, and work very hard to make a positive impact on the children and community in this intensive service-learning project.”

As a culmination of the group program, the Oz Project children will perform a shortened version of the “Wizard of Oz” on Sunday, April 21 at 6 p.m. at the Palace Theater.

Contact Hannah Fuchs at

[email protected].