The ReelAbilities NJ Disabilities Film Festival took place in mid March. Some of the titles in the series included “Son of Stars,” with short “Sensory Overload”; “The Importance of Tying Your Own Shoes,” with shorts “Autism in Love” and “Be My Brother”; “Wampler’s Ascent,” with shorts “Jazz Hand” and “Dancing Outside the Box.”
The film festival was started to spotlight people with challenges and to show their abilities rather than their disabilities. Topics addressed in the films included everything from cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis to employment, freedom of speech and more.
As Rochelle Lazarus of the Kaplen JCC said, “We run more than 70 programs a month for people with disabilities here, so we clearly have a vested interest, but the real goal of the festival is to draw all audiences to the events as a means of having an experience that speaks to the commonalities of all of us. Not what makes us different, but what we share as a common life experience.”
One of the films that was shown was called “Wampler’s Ascent” and it is a documentary about a man with cerebral palsy who climbed El Capital in Yosemite. He did so by doing 20,000 pull-ups on a specialty rigging. The staff at Cerebral Palsy of North Jersey was thrilled about the film.
As Jim McCreath, president and chief executive of CPNJ wrote in an email, “We tell them every day that while they may have to work harder than others without a disability, they can still achieve anything. A movie like ‘Wampler’s Ascent’ brings our teachings to life — our consumers have their own mountains to climb, and this movie gives them an inspirational role model who reaffirms the importance of focusing not on the challenges but on the possibilities.”
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