A project of The Children of Difference Foundation
The Children of Difference Foundation: A 501(c)3 non-profit foundation dedicated to helping children and their families with disabilities and differences.
An interactive website created to inspire conversation, discussion, empathy and real understanding for young people with all types of difference.
Lisa Hedley is an Emmy nominated documentary filmmaker who has focused on telling the stories of people with unique life experiences and turning them into engaging, accessible and educational films. Michele Kupfer is a special educator with over twenty-five years of experience working with children with chronic illnesses and their families. We are uniquely qualified to bring together a website where students can go to in the comfort of their rooms to watch a hip, fast pace, short (3-5 minutes) video presentation representing groups of students with their own special needs. College students can use these diaries for their own understanding of the subjects who are, in actuality, their peers. Categories of difference would include a broad range of medical and psychological conditions such as diabetes, dwarfism, cancer, social anxiety, depression, Tourettes, cerebral palsy, hemophilia, Crohn’s disease, and autism spectrum.
Each short video diary would be easily accessible on the Internet. The diaries are first person portrayals of students from each category using a questionnaire geared to help the audience understand how to make the “subject” feel more at ease but also respond in a more sensitive and empathic ways to someone that might be different than themselves.
Each diarist will have the use of a flip video camera to film their lives for two weeks including daily life with friends, parents, siblings and others.
Stitched around these unique and revealing stories will be technical information, resources, and discussion forums to provide supplemental information. Patients and peers can experience these videos in a fresh and unique way that tell and teach what it is really like to be a student with a defining difference making one’s way through the world of mainstream culture.
These subjects are young people doing what all young people do: trying to make friends, juggle the demands of education, jobs, parental and peer expectations. But they are doing these quotidian things while navigating conditions, which on many levels would appear to make inclusion and participation difficult or even impossible. These are real differences that are simultaneously the least and most defining part of these young people’s lives. These are differences that we see around us but with which most of us typically have little true experience.
This site is an initiative: a step towards stripping away judgment and critique and replacing all of that with a real sense of lives lived. It is an initiative to create a space where difference can be understood to exist on a spectrum of life that is important but not definitive, defining but not exclusionary, real but not debilitating.
The creation of these documentary film diaries and the information around them will not only create valuable insight and information for the public and their peers, but will also give the individual diarists themselves a chance to be expressive and be pro-active about who they can be on their own terms.