Exploring the Intersection of Inclusion, Film and Faith

By Debra Pinger



April Kerley, a world-champion athlete, was born with two arms and one hand. Her left. For a time, she wore a prosthesis on her right, but it felt wooden to her, and not real. As a six year-old celebrating her first communion, she made the sign of the cross with her left hand only to look up to see the priest shaming her for using the wrong hand. Horrified, the now adult marketing professional admits that since that day, she has never felt truly welcome or safe in a Catholic church.

Joe Sherman passionately supported his son’s snowboarding adventures. Adam was one month away from the Olympic trials he was hit by another snowboarder. His severe head injury derailed both his snowboarding career and his bar mitzvah, the Jewish ceremony symbolizing adulthood. He no longer could remember or read Hebrew and his rabbi refused him. Furious, Joe rented a Torah and hall, and gathered family and friends to celebrate his son’s bar mitzvah without a rabbi, and outside the Synagogue.

Lana Olsen regularly brought her friends with developmental disabilities to church where the little group felt parishioners’ discomfort. Undaunted, she and her friends continued to attend and, before long people who had never before brought their children and friends with disabilities, began to do so.

These are three stories of thousands that fuel the passion and challenge the inventiveness of the Interfaith Inclusion Committee of the ReelAbilities Film Festival which is organized by LADD, inc. The group includes: The Rev. Noel Julnes-Dehner, Shilpa Desai, Shabana Ahmed, Bill Kidd, Valarie Walker, Anita Raturi, Kathy Smith, Colleen Gerke, April Kerley, and Caren Theuring. They recognized that disability directly effects 20% of us and cuts across all socio economic groups – it does not discriminate. They looked to faith communities as places where change must be made and as beacons of hope.




Wednesday, November 15, 2017 11:45am - 1:15pm

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Riccy Enriquez Perdomo and José Cabrera

The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program, known as DACA, was created in 2012 by the Obama administration. DACA recipients, certain undocumented immigrants who entered the country illegally before their 16th birthday, were given protection from deportation and were granted eligibility for a work permit and driver’s license.

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