'Only Make Believe' brings theater to Bronx children

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RIVERDALE -

A nonprofit organization is bringing theater to children around the city who might have a hard time getting to a Broadway show.

For six weeks, the Only Make Believe program will be with children at the Henry Ittleson Center in Riverdale.

The children involved may have disabilities or a chronic illness, but organizers say when they enter the land of Only Make Believe, they are whoever they want to be.

“Not seeing their illness, their disability. They just need you to see them,” says Tamela Aldridge, Only Make Believe executive director.

Three instructors will be with the children each step of the way, engaging them on this journey.

"I can see the recognition in their eyes in the moments we're with them, and that’s the most powerful thing; I've seen how storytelling can help someone heal. Because they're forgetting their particular challenge or struggle," says Craig Anthony Bannister, an Only Make Believe actor for the last 13 years.

In the coming weeks, the children will be on a journey experiencing original storylines and characters.

"We believe that engaging the imagination is vital to healing because it promotes positive energy outlook and actually gives you tools that you can use for when you're having those difficult days," says Aldridge.

Ending their first week, reaching up to grab a big star, mushing it together and tucking it into their hearts for next week and whenever they need it.

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