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NAC Kids' Films Document Battles with Illness & Disabilities PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 17 July 2013 04:12

Children battling serious illnesses and physical disabilities recently became celebrities for a day when New Alternatives for Children hosted a screening for ten short films they had created.  The films had been produced by NAC in partnership with Make A Film Foundation’s (MAFF) “Vidz 4 Kidz” filmmaking program.

NAC is a child welfare agency exclusively serving children with severe disabilities and chronic illnesses.  Make A Film Foundation (MAFF) grants film wishes to children with serious or life-threatening medical conditions and helps them create short film legacies by teaming them with noted actors, directors and writers.  Together, NAC and MAFF believe that the creation of these short films empower seriously ill children and help them express themselves as they fight through challenges on a daily basis.

“The children that NAC works with face challenges every day,” said Arlene Goldsmith, Executive Director of NAC. “Documenting their lives and struggles through the “Vidz 4 Kidz” program was an incredible opportunity for them and extremely enriching.”

Ten NAC children who have various chronic medical conditions worked with Director of Photography Barry Markowitz (Crazy Heart, All the Pretty Horses, Sling Blade, The Apostle), and actor Chad Coleman (The Wire) to create short film legacies of their lives, challenges and dreams.

Their stories are profound and a testament to the perseverance of their amazing spirits. Among those children participating in the project is Otis, age 21, who has cerebral palsy and who lived in a hospital for two years before being placed in foster care and eventually adopted.  Today, he is a contributor to a magazine for Foster Care Youth and aspires to be a writer.

Shenay, age nine, was born with osteogenesis imperfecta or brittle bone disease. Her bones are so fragile that they break doing everyday tasks that most of us take for granted, like getting dressed. You would never know by her smile and outgoing personality that Shenay has had almost as many surgeries as birthdays.

Ramsey, age 15, has  edullablastoma and struggles every day just to be seen as a “regular kid”. While he doesn’t like it when other kids make fun of him or think he is not smart, he also knows what counts – his family, his real friends, and getting the most out of life.

Click here to see "Gabby's World" -- the story of Gabriella, a nine-year-old girl who recently sustained burns on 75% of her body. Gabriella is friendly and loves making new friends. She enjoys playing video games in her spare time.

Following the screening, which took place at the School of Visual Arts (SVA) Theater on June 8th, each child received an official “Oscar” award for their film.

Annually, NAC serves 1,400 low-income medically fragile children and their families throughout the metropolitan area. NAC helps children with severe disabilities and/or chronic illnesses achieve permanent and stable lives by enabling them to stay with their birth families through intensive family support services or help them to be adopted by loving and nurturing foster families. Previous to coming to NAC, many of these children resided in hospitals, not because of medical need, but because their parents simply could not care for them at home. More than 50% of our children have multiple diagnoses, and approximately 40% use wheelchairs. Diagnoses include spina bifida, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, sickle cell disease, cancer, HIV/AIDS, traumatic brain injury, brittle bone disease, autism or other chronic illnesses or disabilities. Through intensive family support, medical, mental health, educational, and recreational services, NAC helps our city’s most vulnerable children reach for and realize their dreams. Today, NAC children are not only living with nurturing families but they are attending college, working in the community, and succeeding in areas never thought possible. For more information about NAC, visit www.NacKidsCan.org.

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