The Kessler Foundation, West Orange, NJ, announces that March 13 to March 17 marked the first time that the national ReelAbilities Disabilities Film Festival came to New Jersey. The festival reportedly drew thousands to a variety of locations around the Essex, Union, Hudson, and Somerset counties where they viewed international award-winning films centered on the lives, obstacles, and accomplishments of individuals with disabilities.
Rodger DeRose, president and CEO of Kessler Foundation, which served as a major sponsor for the festival, emphasizes that the Foundation’s “aim in bringing the ReelAbilities Festival to New Jersey is not only to promote the abilities of people with disabilities, but also recognize that we all can relate to the characters in the films. We all need to be accepted and appreciated for our skills,” DeRose says. “ReelAbilities is significant because it shapes a perspective and image of disability not often shown in the mainstream media,”
Joseph Amoroso, director of New Jersey of Division Services, adds after attending many of the festival’s offerings. According to a recent news release, film screenings were then followed by special performances, including a dance performance by a group for youth with disabilities, and discussions targeting the inclusion of individuals with disabilities in society.
Amoroso also emphasizes the importance of employment for the reported 55 million Americans with disabilities, of whom only 21% are employed, “You need to shape expectations first and then provide tools and support. Employment means equality. ReelAbilities shows how people can embrace their disabilities and contribute to society.”
Photo Credit: Kessler Foundation
CAPTION: Joseph Amoroso (upper right), Director of the New Jersey Department of Disability Services, and Millie Gonzalez (upper left), University Relations Specialist and Coordinator of the ReelAbilities: NJ Disabilities Film Festival at Kean University, addressed the audience on opening night of the festival.
Source: Kessler Foundation