What child, while growing up, does not dream of becoming a movie star? The OUCARES Film Camp made this happen for a group of autistic kids. This past summer, from August 15-26, fifty kids on the autism spectrum participated in the sixth annual OUCARES Film Camp. Campers, who ranged from ten to eighteen years of age, spent two weeks with actor/director Joey Travolta and a professional film crew from Hollywood.
With the help of the pros, these campers were able to live the dreams of so many. The kids wrote, directed, acted, and edited in three of their own films.
Joey Travolta is the older brother of well-known actor John Travolta.
Prior to his entry into the film industry, Joey Travolta worked as a special education instructor. Even during his success in the film industry, he could not let go of his desire to help those with special needs. He eventually found a way to combine both of his passions by offering film camps all over the country, including with OUCARES at Oakland University.
“I want to take everything I learned in the film industry and teach it to kids with autism,” said Travolta.
On Saturday October 15th,OUCARES hosted its sixth annual film premier. This premier featured the end result of the two-week film camp. Many parents and members of the community stopped by that evening to witness the achievements of the campers.
Anticipation filled the air as the stars prepared to make their entrance. Ringing applause announced their entrance. One by one, the campers with autism made their way down the red carpet. Happiness was evident in the passing faces as the kids savored their well-earned success.
Dale Oprandy served as an instructor on Travolta’s crew teaching the older group of students at the film camp. He was also Master of Ceremonies at the Film Premier.
Addressing the students before the premier, Oprandy said, “You have abilities above and beyond. We learn so much from you.”
Oprandy continued to say that Travolta opens doors for every one of the campers. He gives a voice to those with autism.
Through many laughs, the film was presented. Eager parents watched as their kids’ many talents were placed on full display. Following the premier, the participants were called to receive their certificate from Oprandy. There was pride on the faces of the watching parents.
Travolta has been bringing his Film Camp to OUCARES for six years. He has watched many of the campers grow up and become adults.
“I love you guys. I’m always going to be here,” said Travolta.