Costa sophomore Hailey Staszkow created her own local theatre company, Anchorless, to help children with developmental disabilities see that they can do anything they set their minds to.
Staszkow created Anchorless last October and started holding rehearsals and performances last February. The company casts young adults and teenagers with developmental disabilities to put on 30- minute long musicals.
“I started this company because I saw my peers with developmental disabilities being shoved in the corner of a classroom and looked down upon,” Staszkow said. “There [weren’t] any opportunities for them, so I thought I’d do something to inspire them.”
Staszkow was inspired to create her own company after hearing a speech from Ed Lynch, the founder of Mychal’s Learning Place, at a National Charity League meeting. Mychal’s Learning Place is an after-school program that teaches life skills to young adults with disabilies, Staszkow said. At the meeting, Staszkow related to his interest in helping others, so she asked him if she could use his venue in Redondo Beach to put on a show called “Aladdin Kids.” Staszkow’s company took off from there.
“I think this is a great company because it shows that kids with disabilities still have the ability to do what any other kid can do,” Costa sophomore and Anchorless volunteer Katie Cottle said. “The kids are always smiling, and they learn valuable working skills.”
Staszkow said she started the company because of a personal passion for helping others. She created Anchorless mainly by herself, but she had a lot of moral support and volunteer help from her friends and family. One of the many difficulties she faced while creating a company from scratch included finding theatre space.
“Hailey is hard-working, efficient and dedicated to her company,” Cottle said. “She made the kids her priority which made her perfect for the job. She always made them feel special and a part of something special.”
“Aladin Kids” was Anchorless’ first performance and due to the months of preparation required for the performance, it has been their only production so far. They have been rehearsing for the performance for a month and a half. Their second show is called “The Lion King Experience” and the performance will be March 16 at Pennekamp Elementary.
“‘Aladdin Kids’ was a huge success and I am so excited for our upcoming show, ‘The Lion King Experience’,” Staszkow said. “Although we don’t have a set location, we are looking for one and are very excited to see what comes. I know the production is going to be a huge success.”
Staszkow’s main goal is to give her actors at Anchorless a place to feel special. She hopes to expand her company by having many more children and schools become involved with the company and by producing shows more frequently.
“My hope is to expand Anchorless to many other local afterschool programs,” Staszkow said. “All I want to do is make a difference and inspire others.”