Members of the Newton community watched the documentary “Intelligent Lives” at Eliot church this Tuesday. After the showing, there was an engaging discussion about the challenges disabled children face. The event was co-hosted by senior Nathan Persampieri, Reverend Reebee Girash, and church member Nancy Atkinson.
The film follows three young adults with intellectual disabilities as they looked to engage in their communities and surpass societal expectations. Micah hoped to meet new friends, Naomie looked for a job in a hair salon, and Naieer visited art schools.
“It’s truly a groundbreaking film,” said sophomore Tom Geraci, who was at the showing. “It’s really opening doors for an inclusive culture.”
The film is unique in that it is one of few representations of people with intellectual disabilities in media, according to Persampieri.
Eliot church is taking the first step in including people with disabilities in the community, according to Girash.“Eliot church has a commitment to accessibility and inclusion, and this film is one way in which we are currently living out that commitment,” Girash said.
The showing of the film started a conversation about inclusion that Persampieri said he hopes will continue at North. “I want to do an entire day for Beyond Kindness Day,” he said. “At the panels, we can talk about how to include people of all disabilities.”
According to Geraci, although the North community is fairly open, there is still work needed to include students with disabilities. “The good thing about North is there are a lot of supportive programs,” Geraci said. “There is still bullying though, and kids with disabilities have a higher risk of being bullied.”
As well as seeking support through the school, students can seek support through organizations such as Boston Center for Independent Living, Partners for Youth with Disabilities, and EasterSeals Massachusetts, according to Persampieri.
“If you are a person with a disability, it is hard to get around in the world,” Persampieri said. “Being your own advocate is important because you are fighting for what you need, and it benefits others as well.”
Persampieri’s next event will be at Eliot Church at 6:30 on October 23 and will include a discussion of the book Wonder.