By Kirk Ponton, Community Engagement Manager

Spring is upon us, which means that it’s that time of the year when The Arc Mercer Drama Program collaborates with Adjunct Professor Jennifer Little from The College of New Jersey for a dynamic experience that focuses on community inclusion in Mercer County.  I’m referring, of course, to our Arts and Community Course.
Two years ago, I reached out to the college via connections that The Arc Mercer has with the Bonner Program.  If you have ever worked within any of our arts programming, you will know that the Bonner students have been a major part in helping our programs grow and succeed through their volunteer efforts.  It was through them that I learned of a great opportunity that had been sitting untouched for over 5 years.  
After meeting with several professors and deans alike, it was brought to my attention that there was a grant in place at the college which allowed for a course to have students collaborate with a non-profit community organization as a way of exploring social change and justice through the arts. 
Our last production, “(In)justice for All,” presented various skits in regards to bigotry, hate and injustices faced by all Americans throughout the country.  But we did our best to keep some of them light-hearted while still trying to convey our messages to the audience.
Many of the participants have been focusing on some of their personal memories. A lot of the stories contain themes of pain, sadness, being ridiculed, etc., by other individuals. And as we speak of these freely in class, it’s evident that we have more in common than we thought. 
But what people can expect from us on April 30th is a collaborative piece made from true grit with an artistic integrity that can only be created when two unlikely forces join together to create. It should be full of cheers and jeers, laughs and cries with a focus on the human element of kindness, love, and awareness.
Check back with our social media sites as well as our website for an exact location and time for this year’s Arts and Community performance.