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For release: 04 April, 2019
Harford Community College will be screening DEEJ, a Peabody Award-winning, Emmy-nominated documentary, on April 25, 12 to 1:30 PM and 6 to 8 PM, in the College's Chesapeake Theater. The event is free and open to the public. David "DJ" Savarese is the guest speaker.
The national Deej Inclusion Tour is holding a series of public events around the country with the Peabody Award-winning, Emmy-nominated documentary, DEEJ, to raise awareness about autism and neurodiversity and to engage community members on how to build more inclusive schools and communities. Launched in the fall of 2017, the tour has reached over 100 communities so far and is in partnership with universities, disability advocacy groups, churches, government agencies and high schools across the United States.
The goal of the tour is to promote inclusion - in families, schools and communities - of all neuro-divergent people, especially nonspeaking autistics. The screenings at HCC, which are sponsored by Harford Community College, Disability and Student Intervention Services, are being held in conjunction with the tour.
The film is about a nonspeaking young man who dreams of autistic civil rights. After spending his early years in foster care, without access to language, DJ "Deej" Savarese found not only a loving family but also a life in words, which he types on a text-to-voice synthesizer.
In DEEJ, a groundbreaking, new documentary on autism and inclusion, DJ makes his way through high school and the transition into college, as he confronts the terrors of his past, obstacles to inclusion, and the sometimes paralyzing beauty of his own senses. He embraces filmmaking and poetry, and discovers what having a voice can truly mean. DJ challenges misconceptions of what a nonspeaking student with autism can accomplish. As one of only a few nonspeaking autistics who have been included in regular education settings, he shares his ideas not only about what full inclusion requires, but also the potential it offers to everyone.
In this first-of-its-kind collaboration between a veteran filmmaker and a nonspeaking autistic, Robert Rooy, the director, and DJ share editorial control as they navigate the challenges of representing autism. With unflinching candor, DEEJ reveals what it takes to make the goals of inclusion and disability rights a reality.
"Imagine for a minute that you are removed from your home for reasons no one bothers to tell you, because you can't speak; so they assume you can't hear or think or feel."
"Being included is every kid's right. It shouldn't be a lottery."
DJ ("Deej") Savarese, in the film DEEJ.
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