Special needs students will perform in opening ceremony
A group of special needs children and teens from the L.A. Speech and Language Therapy Center will be performing in the opening ceremony of the 2015 Special Olympics World Summer Games on July 25 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The games will host more than 7,000 special needs athletes from 170 nations and are expected to bring out more than half a million attendees. The local speech and therapy center’s president and founder, Pamela Wiley, Ph.D. noted that she is “honored” to have this opportunity to showcase her talented group of special needs students, some of whom she has worked with since they were two years old.
“We gathered 40 of our students with the ages ranging from 4 to 22 years,” she said. While the group includes some siblings of the students, “the majority have autism spectrum disorder,” Wiley said.
The students will be performing as well as singer, Katy Perry and artist, Jay Alvin. They have been rehearsing twice a week and have had a lot of support. They’ve been able to rehearse with singer Johnny Gill and obtain help from staff and volunteers.
“We have a wonderful woman, Lita Owens and she’s our musical director. She’s volunteered her time in our drama program for ten years. So our kids are pretty comfortable performing because they’ve grown up on the stage. Our kids have talked about how they feel like a star and they feel so good,” Wiley said.
The opportunity to perform at the Special Olympics came about after Producer/Director, Debbie Allen was searching for local community programs that would have special needs children and teenagers. Wiley reached out to Tisha Campbell-Martin, whose son worked Wiley Center for Speech and Language Development and the two connected.
“I was very honored to receive the call and kind of shocked initially,” Wiley said.
Wiley is one of the oldest African American speech pathologists around the country that has been able to stay in business. Her experience with giving services to special needs children and teens has blossomed out of 35 years in her private practice. She started L.A. Speech and Language Therapy Center in 1979. Their Culver City location has been in operation for ten years.
To find out more information on L.A. Speech and Language Therapy Center, you can visit their website: http://www.speakla.com.