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“A Hopeful, Joyous Documentary With An Activist Spirit” (Marshall Shaffer)


Depressed, stuck at home and looking for some inspiration?

You can’t do better than “Crip Camp,” a documentary that is currently streaming on Netflix.

Produced by Barrack and Michelle Obama, the movie traces the development of “Camp Jened,” a summer camp created for disabled teens in the late 60’s in upstate New York.

It is an unvarnished look at the reality of living with a disability and going to camp. Although there are physical challenges, there is also a great deal of support from other disabled participants (both campers and counselors). Through interviews with participants, as well as footage of camp  activities, we see how the campers help and support each other – creating bonds that in some cases are lifelong.

The documentary also chronicles some highlights of the disability rights movement, which ultimately led to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990. Among the more poignant scenes was the “capital crawl,” in which people with disabilities dragged themselves up the steps of the nation’s capital, in order to call attention to the lack of accessibility in government buildings.

In sum, this documentary shows how when people with disabilities find each other, our power (and fulfilment) is much greater than the sum of our parts.

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