Participants in programs that Eden Prairie-based CHOICE Inc. provides to the intellectually disabled are expressing themselves in new and creative ways, thanks to a 2019 grant from the Eden Prairie Community Foundation.
The $2,000 grant was used to purchase filming gear and film-editing software, enabling CHOICE participants to produce six music videos that will play at the nonprofit’s annual fundraiser in April and two short films that will premiere in a community-theater setting yet to be scheduled.
More importantly, placing a camera in front of people that CHOICE serves and encouraging them to “go for it” has helped even the most bashful of them to open up, according to Cassidy Sutton, an art instructor at CHOICE.
The projects created new opportunities for program participants to be seen and understood, Sutton added, and the result was magical: participants beaming, laughing, and sharing high-fives while watching the end results.
For example, it took a while to get a quiet young man named Jack to suit up in a leather jacket and sunglasses and play a dance-club bouncer in a remake of a Destiny’s Child music video. But he fully took on the part, and later – to the surprise and delight of even his parents – tackled a speaking role.
It’s all part of a broader plan by CHOICE. By boosting its arts program, the nonprofit is on track to not only be recognized for its job-placement services but also be a beacon for participants and families seeking art programming.
The grant is also a win-win for Foundation supporters, because there is impact in the social-services arena as well as in arts and culture.
If you would like to learn more about CHOICE and its programs, check out its website. It is one of about 100 Eden Prairie nonprofits that have benefited from Foundation grants over the years.