On Tour: Lancaster, PA

2 May

April 4, 2017 | States of Grace | Lancaster, PA

Barry Kornhauser, my host for the screening, has told me that States of Grace is an especially good fit for Millersville University which has an interdisciplinary Disabilities Studies program as well as a growing Disability Arts program.  Not only is this an OSIP screening, but it’s part of the university’s Disability Film Festival programmed by Dr. Thomas Neuville, a professor in Disability Studies, as well as a springboard to a series of events tied largely to disability.

Barry meets me at the hotel at 12:30 and it quickly becomes clear that I should have been working out at the gym and lacing up my running shoes to keep up with him.  The afternoon consists of presentations in two classes: a combined group consisting of a Wellness class and a class in Social Psychology;  and a class called Social Work in Mental Health.   I show the trailer and clips from the film and talk about the film’s relevance to wellness in the broadest sense of the term – physical, social, emotional and spiritual.  I’m a bit surprised at how much fun it is to present the film in this way and it seems well received.

Immediately after, we drive to the Ware Center stage where I’m interviewed by a local cable station and am quickly reminded why I chose to be behind the camera instead of in front of it.  Although this type of interview is always challenging for me, it’s great that the film screening will have a life on cable TV after the event itself.  The tech check goes well, followed by a delicious dinner of Vietnamese food which gives Barry and me an opportunity to schmooze.

There is an unusual format for the evening that consists of a panel discussion before the screening and Q&A afterwards.  It’s quite a group of panelists: William Kepner, CEO & President of United Disability Services; Melissa Hawkins, Executive Director of the Disability Empowerment Center; Jan Bechtel, MU Director of Integrated Studies; and Brian Long, Lead Coordinator, Berks/Lancaster/Lebanon LINK to Aging and Disability Resources.  ASL interpretation is provided by Laura Hoffer.  Each speaks briefly about their perspective on disability and caregiving and makes suggestions about what to look for in the film. It’s a really nice way to set up the screening and leaves me to handle the Q&A afterwards.  The audience is very enthusiastic and appreciative, as am I.

The next morning I am back on campus for presentations in two Speech classes with two different professors.  This is a core curriculum class in Communications that is focused on public speaking.  I use it as an opportunity to talk about how Grace prepared a 10-minute speech for the Unsung Heroes of Compassions awards where the Dalai Lama recognizes ten individuals from around the world who have performed significant humanitarian work.  The ceremony took place about a year after the accident when  Grace was still recovering in the rehab hospital.  She worked with her speech therapist for four months to put it together – structuring the sentences and ideas, finding her breath and practicing the cadence.

It was a very rich and gratifying visit.

Post provided by On Screen/In Person filmmaker Mark Lipman

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