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Founded by USF in 1978, the Jesters is an intergenerational, multi-disciplinary performing arts program for people with mild to severe intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD). The purpose of the Jesters is to enhance quality of life for people with I/DD by engaging them in the creative arts. The vision is to help them develop self-expression, self-esteem, socialization and other life skills while providing learning opportunities to the USF community and the community at large. This one-of-a-kind program runs from September to March, providing over 20 weeks of customized arts education activities, including Movement/Dance, Music (instrumental and voice), Theatre, Animation, Storytelling, Visual Arts and Improvisation.

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The Program

The Jester program works with participants to create original, multi-disciplinary work that is relevant to participants’ lives and highlights performers’ strengths. Each year, artists and participants work together to co-create an original, culminating, multi-disciplinary performance presented each March before a combined audience of 850 people (over two showings). The Jester program year also includes  a 6-week summer program, training for other organizations and guest artist residencies as well as workshops and lecture-demonstrations at conferences, schools and community events.

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