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Sphere’s “Romeo And Juliet”

There is a program in Ridgefield, Connecticut called Sphere.  Sphere stands for Special, People, Housing, Education, Recreation and Employment. It’s mission: to improve the quality of life for individuals with developmental disabilities, and that includes giving them a voice on the stage. Sphere, was founded in 1987 and it’s current President is Rebecca Ciota. Ciota’s twin sister, Hope,  is a member of Sphere, she has Down Syndrome. The organization’s  Executive Director is Valerie Jensen. Jensen is also a sister to Hope and she too has a twin sister. If you’re keeping track, that makes two sets of twins in one family, Not done yet. Jensen also has twins so that is three sets in the family so far. Quite a story. It’s no wonder that Ciota and Jensen are passionate about this organization because they have seen first had what it has done for Hope.

While more than two dozen plays have been produced over the years, including Romeo & Juliet, Jensen, who directs the plays, decided to make a movie of her version of Shakespere’s play.  In order to get the Sphere members to understand the story of Romeo & Juliet she designed a coloring book, which is available to everyone  on Amazon HERE.

Once the movie was made they decided to submit it to film festivals, why not right, this is a novel idea. It got an honorable mention at the Los Angeles Film Festival and got a screening at the Buffalo International Film Festival. Jensen by trade is an elementary school teacher but has blossomed into so much more because of her special needs sister.

As I was walking with the sisters down Main street in Ridgefield ,we rain into the young man who plays the Prince in the Romeo & Juliet movie. He was riding his bike on the sidewalk and stopped to say hi and he told me about the difference Sphere is making in his life. You could see such joy in his face when he talked about acting. Those at Sphere are making a difference in the lives of so many adults with developmental difficulties.

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