Earlier this month, Serena Selkin, Grants Manager, and Nora Rubovitz, Assistant Director, Family Services Projects, got the chance to visit one of the recipients of the Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp Scholarship Fund, Joey Travolta Short Film Camp, in Englewood Cliffs, NJ. The camp is operated by MarbleJam Kids, and serves people with autism and related disabilities, ages 10-23.
For 15 years, Joey Travolta has been teaching children, teens, and adults with autism spectrum disorders and other special needs the art of filmmaking. The camp began as an extension of his successful special needs adult vocational program located at Inclusion Films in Bakersfield, California. The short two week intensive program allows Mr. Travolta and his staff to reach other youth across the country to inspire their creativity, and to experience pre-vocational skills with on the job training in the arts. The mission of the camp is to provide an inclusive and co-creative opportunity through the art of film making, that addresses social skills, communication issues, and provides a vocational skill for kids and teens with ASDs. The camp also provides opportunities for creative discovery and collaboration among all participants, with and without special needs.
For the past two years MarbleJam Kids produced the Film Camp for over 100 kids and teens with autism spectrum disorders. MarbleJam Kids is currently the sole sponsor of the camp in the tri-state area. The camp offers participants an educational opportunity to learn the process of making a short film. They work in small groups, with age appropriate peers and with typically developing peers, under the guidance and instruction of Mr. Travolta and his professional teaching and film crew. Mr. Travolta sets high expectations for the campers, and year after year they rise to the occasion and create an extraordinary short film. MarbleJam Kids produces a Red Carpet Premiere in the fall to showcase the final work of the campers and share with the community.
On our visit, we observed the kids in action. They were filming in costume, working on computers, improvising in workshops, and in general having a blast!
Below is a slideshow of the some of the campers and activities. For more information on the Autism Speaks Baker Summer Camp Scholarship Program, please visit http://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/grants/baker-summer-camp-program and for more information on MarbleJam Kids, please visit http://www.marblejamkids.org