By: Thomas Oide
The red lights on the cameras came on, indicating that recording had begun.
But this was no ordinary filming crew, this particular set of cameramen were from the Civitan Media Program–a place where individuals with developmental disabilities learn skills that they wouldn’t normally be able to experience.
The camera crew from Civitan partnered with the non-profit organization Partner to Assist in Learning (PAL) Experiences and the Phoenix Children’s Museum in order to create a short video about what children can do in the museum. The video, shot and edited by the crew from Civitan, will go on the museum website.
The idea for the video came from “Special Night of Play,” an evening at the museum when families with children affected by autism could play in a more peaceful atmosphere. Melanie Issacs, the director of PAL Experiences, reached out to the museum to make it more accessible for all groups of people
“[Melanie Issacs] was interested in working with us to make the museum more accessible for all of our visitors,” Melanie Martin, an early childhood specialist at the museum, said. “She suggested that we create a video of a social story.”
Once Issacs found Civitan through a friend of hers, her video was able to come to life. After that, Issacs reached out to Hana Ruzsa, the Civitan Media coordinator who jumped on board and saw it as a great opportunity for the newly created media program.
“It was just really beautiful, all of us coming together and having this discussion about the new practices of Civitan, which was the media department,” Ruzsa said. “It was about what [Civitan] could do to facilitate Melanie and her mission for accessibility at places like museums.”
Issacs wanted the Civitan media department to film the project in order to make it a project that came full circle. The main subject of the film also had a developmental disability.
“I wanted to make it like a full circle project,” Isaacs said. “And I knew that there were a lot of adults with disabilities who have amazing skill sets and I wanted to figure out a way to make it a for-us, by-us project.”