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Crip Camp

published in the Republican May 2021

Nicole Newnham and James LeBrecht produced a documentary titled Crip Camp, which was released on Netflix last March.  It is about the disability revolution, and was nominated for an Oscar Award.  Even though it didn’t win, the disability community still sees it as a win because it received recognition.
The documentary is based on Camp Jened, starting in 1971.  The camp in New York was considered to be a free spirited camp designed for kids with disabilities.  It focuses on campers who turned themselves into activists for the disability rights movement.
The camp originally started in 1951 but didn’t get involved in the disability rights movement until 1971.  The camp empowered political and social discussion about accessibility issues and how to be more independent in their communities.
The documentary has empowered people to learn more about the disability movement.  It gave voice to people with disabilities through their experiences.  One camper, Judy Heumann, said, “We spent our time at Camp Jened envisioning a world that was not set up in a way that excluded us.  We started to have a common vision and ask our own questions, like ‘Why are we denied an education?  Why is there no captioning for deaf people or audio descriptions for blind people and no access to public transportation?’  We came away from the camp knowing we wanted to make changes in society and recognizing lessons from the civil rights movement where people spoke on their own behalf to rectify injustice.”

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