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Kiwanis awards highest honor to doctor who helps kids develop a love of performing

Steven Hadt | Jul 30, 2018

Dr Andrew Morgan and The Peguin Project

The Penguin Project Andrew Morgan combined his passion for theater and his professional expertise in child development to positively impact the lives of hundreds of students throughout the United States. For his work with The Penguin Project, Kiwanis International awarded Morgan the 2018 Kiwanis World Service Medal.

In 2004, Morgan created The Penguin Project to give children with disabilities an opportunity to experience the performing arts. The program was so successful in Peoria, Illinois, that it quickly spread. The Penguin Project now has 25 groups performing in 11 states.

The productions are modified hit Broadway musicals with all the roles filled by young artists with developmental disabilities. The students are joined on stage by "peer mentors" — children of the same age without neurological disorders.

Dr Andrew Morgan Morgan believes The Penguin Project demonstrates the special challenges of a disability should not handicap a child’s ability to participate in life’s experiences.

Morgan is Professor Emeritus of Clinical Pediatrics and the former Head of the Division of Child Development at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria. He has been the primary medical specialist in central Illinois involved in the diagnosis and treatment of children with disabilities for more than 35 years. Throughout his career, he has been actively involved in the education of medical students, medical residents, physicians and healthcare professionals.

The award was presented during the 2018 Kiwanis International convention in Las Vegas. A group of children who participate in The Penguin Project performed during the Opening Session and received a standing ovation by the thousands of Kiwanis members in the audience.

The Kiwanis World Service Medal is the highest honor that is bestowed by Kiwanis International. Previous recipients include UNICEF, Mother Teresa and Nancy Reagan.

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