Greater Atlanta Christian School (GACS) holds an annual service day and for several years Hi-Hope has been one of the partner organizations for the 7th grade program. While these students traditionally visit Hi-Hope to put on an activity, for the last two years we have flipped the proverbial script and taken a small group to visit the school. See, last year we were brainstorming an activity and it dawned on us that we still had the films we screened at the Sprout Film Festival. Furthermore, several of our individuals were unable to attend the festival because it was on a weekend. We started thinking about a space big enough to show the films at Hi-Hope, but were struggling because of the renovation. Our contact at GACS, Lori, came up with the solution: "Why don't you bring your group over here? We have a ton of space to set up a small movie day." And so we did.
Our film rights allow us to do small screenings so for the last two years we have set up a mini film festival that lets some of our folks see the movies while paired up with a 7th grade student. It is also a great educational opportunity for the students who get to see the films and talk about them with people that make up the intellectual and developmental disability community. These dialogues do a lot to dispel stereotypes and break down barriers.
The students, teachers and parent volunteers who help with the event do it up big-time. They literally rolled out a red carpet and set up a rope line so that when our folks enter the event, there is a crowd on both sides cheering for them and taking pictures (pretending to be paparazzi). Each individual is paired with a student that gets to be their host for the day. This year we started by watching roughly half our films in their fine arts center. Afterward, we did some arts & crafts and then took a short stroll across campus to the dinning room for lunch where everyone ate together. The day ended with a group photo shoot outside.
Everyone said they had a great time and it was pretty obvious that our folks made some fast friends over the course of the morning. One GACS staff member remarked that her son had participated last year and her 6th grade daughter was already asking if she could do it when she's in 7th grade. We look forward to keeping this tradition alive as a great activity that gives our folks a chance to be ambassadors of our work out in the community.