Children with special needs shine during Theater Week at Dr. Phillips Center

'OCA Jones and the Four Ancient Camps' rehearsals underway at DPC

ORLANDO, Fla. – Playwright Ivan Negrón has a vision: a play called the "OCA Jones and the Four Ancient Camps." 

A local pee wee camp's special needs kids, alongside the adults from the OCA adult vocational training program, are bringing it to life Friday in the DeVos family room at the Dr. Phillips Center. 

"I'm gonna play the king Chihuahua, Madame Diablo's sidekick," Ivan Negron said about his role in the play based on an emblematic story. 

Dana Brazil, the senior director of education at the Dr. Phillips Center, gave News 6 a little more insight about the play.

"The OCA Jones and his sidekick, and the professor, his kind of students, go in quest of trying to get these four pillars to connect them to send the evil madame Diabla, played by coach Silvia Naas, back to the underworld because she has been unleashed through a discovery of an artifact," Brazil said.

The four pillars Brazil mentioned are the foundation for OCA: teamwork, respect, innovation and passion.

News 6 at Nine's Carolina Cardona got a preview of the team's four-day rehearsal and noticed that some lines in the play are from "Raiders of the Lost Ark," the iconic movie that stars Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones.

"That's ancient, not old," Negron read as one of his lines.

"Snakes! Why are there always snake?" read Julian Loht, who will play OCA Jones in the performance.

Silvia Haas, the executive director of OCA, a nonprofit organization that provides kids and families with autism or other disabilities the opportunity to maximize their abilities through functional, behavioral, social and vocational programs like Theater Week, said there are many new components to their play, too.

"Everybody is going to be able to walk across the stage, which that's new for us. So there's a lot of parts to this play. We've been able to give them this whole new opportunity that normally is not afforded to kids, but, with our partnership with Dr. Phillips Center, we're making it happen," Haas said.

The program started nine years ago as a result of Negrón's imagination and ability to draw sets and costumes. Through their partnership with the Dr. Phillips Center, they are bringing hope to many families in Orlando.

"We have kids that weren't talking (who) are now talking. We have kids that had low self-esteem that are very confident now and they all want to (do is) perform," Haas said.

OCA is available to families at an affordable cost. They incorporate language development, gross motor, fine motor movement, social skills and functional training. 

"The best part is watching their parents be able to see them be in a situation that they never thought that they would be able to see their child in," Brazil said. 

For more information, visit www.drphillipscenter.org/education.

About the Author: