Children Cheer at Launch of Inclusive, School-Wide Reading Project

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United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties Joins NEW Academy Canoga Park to Kick-Off an Innovative, Inclusive Reading Experience for Students Reading Best-Selling Novel "Out of My Mind"

United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (UCPLA) has aligned with NEW Academy Canoga Park (NACP) to create an inclusive, true-to-life, school-wide literary experience for students reading Sharon Draper’s best-selling novel "Out of My Mind". The book follows the story of the brilliant-minded Melody, a young girl with cerebral palsy that prevents her from speaking— until she receives a computer that can help her express herself, even though not everyone is ready to hear her voice.

The inclusion project will help bring Melody’s world and accomplishments to life by offering elementary school students the chance to interact with lifelong learners in UCPLA’s Adult Day Programs, specifically UCPLA authors who will visit NACP to read works they are producing as part of UCPLA’s Writers Guild project, the products of which will officially launch in 2015. Through these interactions with UCPLA authors, as well as field trips to UCPLA’s residential facilities, students will learn about the realities of living (and thriving) with developmental disabilities.

UCPLA and NACP launched the project at a school-wide assembly on Friday, September 12, where the student body learned the title of the book that they will read throughout the academic year after working to solve a week-long series of clues that relate to "Out of My Mind". Students in grades K-5 cheered as the book title was announced, viewed a video about living with cerebral palsy, and received branded shirts and wristbands as they left the assembly.

The UCPLA/NACP collaboration will culminate in December 2014 with a visit from the book’s author Sharon Draper, who will address NACP students and UCPLA participants, and lead a discussion about literature, inclusion, and developmental disabilities. UCPLA and NACP are working together to ensure that students and UCPLA participants can partake in as many exchanges as possible during the course of the project.

MEDIA INQUIRIES: Tamara Pompey, Communications and Marketing Manager (818) 782-2211 or (805) 750-0900. For information about how to support this project, contact Chief Development Officer Amy Simons at (818) 782-2211.

United Cerebral Palsy of Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (UCPLA) operates over 40 program sites throughout five counties in Southern California and has extended its mission to serve all people with developmental disabilities. These programs include adult day activity centers, children’s programs, community living support services, group homes and independent living apartments. UCPLA provides services to over 1100 children and adults with developmental disabilities daily. For more information on UCPLA visit our website at: or Facebook page at

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