Grants In Action

Luca “Lazylegz” Kicks Off Rousing Start to ‘Understanding Our Different Abilities’


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Luca “Lazylegz” Patuelli entertained and educated students at all of Needham’s public elementary schools this week as part of a rousing and inspiring kick-off to the Understanding our Different Abilities program.

Luca was born with Arthrogryposis, a rare disorder that causes limited joint movement and poor muscle growth and later diagnosed with scoliosis. Despite many surgeries to address these issues, Luca has never let his disability prevent him from doing the activities he loves including swimming, diving, skiing, and horseback riding.  After a leg surgery prevented him from continuing skateboarding, he was introduced to breakdancing.  Using his upper body strength to create a unique style of dancing, “Lazylegz” was born.  Since then, Luca has become a world-renowned break-dancer.  In 2007, Luca created ILL-Abilities™, an international dance crew of differently-abled dancers.  Their goal is to show the world that as long as you are positive, creative, and willing to adapt to any situation, anything is possible. Together, they perform all over the world, spreading the message No Excuses, No Limits.”  Luca has appeared on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, America’s Got Talent, and So You Think You Can Dance Canada as the world’s first and only dancer with a disability to make it into Finals Week.

According to grant writer, Suzanne Lissy, “Luca embodies the message we bring to our kids through the Understanding our Different Abilities program; that we are all unique and different and that is what makes us the same.”

Check out coverage of Luca’s visit in the Needham Times and on Luca’s YouTube channel.

$50,000 Grant from the Needham Education Foundation Launches “Da Vinci Workshop” at Needham High School

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A one-man show, written and performed by actor Steve Kidd, was performed for 406 students in eighth grade at the Pollard Middle School. The play was originated by Steve following several summers of work at a camp for HIV-positive children. He wrote the play in an effort to inspire young people to do public service through telling the stories of some of these children and families. He combines actual stories of children living with HIV/AIDs with excerpts from Ursala Le Guin’s short story “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas.”

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James Rojas/Urban Planner

James Rojas, an activist, artist, and urban planner, came to Broadmeadow School for a weeklong art and design residency involving the entire Broadmeadow community.

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Helen Keller: A One-Woman Play

Helen Keller PlayStudents in grades 1 to 5 at all Needham public elementary schools were exposed to history through performance thanks to a Small Grant awarded by NEF during its spring 2013 grant cycle. The program, “Sheryl Faye Presents Historical Women,” served as the kick-off event for the town-wide Understanding Our Different Abilities program, which is coordinated by each school’s PTC. This fall, each elementary school had two sessions of the performance followed by a question-and-answer period with the performance artist.

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