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Performing arts program in Hamilton County includes individuals with special needs

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Posted at 8:23 AM, May 04, 2021

HAMILTON CO. — Extracurricular activities are a big part of growing up. But for kids with special needs, finding the right program can be more of a challenge.

Music can be therapy for a lot of people, and a new project in Hamilton County is allowing kids with special needs to take center stage to make sure no one feels left behind.

Ryan Peaden is a performer. Whether it's singing or dancing, he says he’s going to be a star.

Ryan is 7 years old and has down syndrome, so when his mom heard about the "Prism Project" starting up in Fishers, she was excited.

“I love that that was the opportunity for kids with special needs to get involved and to be able to have that opportunity to perform and to, you know, learn with others,” said Julianne Peaden.

The Prisim Project was started at Ball State University years ago, a performing arts program for kids with special needs.

Kelly Fischer took her son Noah there and when she moved to New Orleans brought the program with her. Now, she's back in the Hoosier state, and she’s bringing it with her to Hamilton County.

“I just love the program. I love the fact that the point of it was to make creative arts accessible to all kids because creative arts is so accessible. You don't have to be able to sing to appreciate music and you don't have to be able to walk to dance,” said Fischer.

This year, because of the coronavirus, everything had to move online. And since it was a new program, Fischer partnered up with Prism Project in Greater New Orleans and together they made a music video where the kids wrote and sang their own songs.

“The kids actually wrote lyrics. Originally they were sort of thinking 'should it be about COVID?' Because it's a blues song, and some of the kids did write about the COVID experience, but actually every kid was different. My son Noah is struggling to learn how to use his white cane and so he wrote about that,” said Fischer.

And Ryan, he loves his ribbons sticks, and those made it into the music video too.

“It showcases kids who wouldn't get showcased otherwise, you know, and you see how they really are talented. You know, they've got a lot to give, a lot to share, is just sometimes we don't see that,” said Peaden.

If you want to get involved with the Prism Project in Hamilton County, you can email Kelly Fischer at

The completed music video created through the Prism Project is expected to go live June 1.