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People with Different Abilities Can Do Amazing Things: On and Off the Big Screen

Renee Eder on Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Photo from ReelAbilities Film, "The Finishers"

This morning, a  CBS News article caught my eye. It included the following quote: "It’s been said the only limits are the ones you set for yourself." To illustrate the quote, it discusses 8-year old Mather Stover-Ling, who was born with spina bifida and has no use of his legs, Chanelle Houston, whose spine was broken in a car accident, and Dr. Jonathan Lessin, who suffers from Parkinsons. All three of these individuals are remarkable in that they participate in indoor rock climbing. You may ask how this is possible. The answer is simple... It's their determination that drives them to accomplish things they never thought were possible.

I thoroughly enjoy reading about amazing things that people with different abilities can do, as in the article described above. Equally, I enjoy watching people with different abilities do amazing things in films, as it plays a major role in promoting appreciation and awareness. I have found when it comes to films, different abilities can be the focus of a movie (think "A Beautiful Mind" or "Rain Man") or it can be mainstreamed as a character who happens to use a wheelchair or is deaf.  From blockbusters such as "Forrest Gump" to lesser-known films like "Frankie Starlight" and classics such as "It's a Wonderful Life," Hollywood has made some worthwhile films featuring characters with different abilities.

Experience Films about People with Different Abilities for Yourself

ReelAbilities (which takes place in our area September 18-24) is the largest film festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with different abilities. Initiated in NY in 2007, the festival presents award-winning films by and about people with disabilities in multiple locations throughout each host city. Post-screening discussions and other engaging programs bring together the community to explore, discuss, embrace, and celebrate the diversity of our shared human experience.

Through the annual ReelAbilities Film Festival, the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCCNV) partners with local organizations to maximize outreach, media attention, and festival participation. For a complete list of all the films and to purchase a film festival pass visit:
http://www.brownpapertickets.com/profile/190347

P.S. At  the J, we are committed to helping those with different abilities through activities designed to develop physical and social skills for especially for them. The programs feature small participant-staff ratios and offerings such as adapted aquatics, social groups, family events, and recreational social skills classes. Learn more about special needs at the J.

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