Students and adults could learn a lot from seeing the movie "Including Samuel," a film about a young boy's experience in school with a disability.
The film was shown Tuesday as part of the national Inclusive Schools Week. The week has been also recognized by the Austin School Board and in honor of the week, the documentary "Including Samuel" was shown at the Austin Public Library.
The event was sponsored by the Special Education Advisory Council with the school district, Community Against Bullying and Arc of Mower County. The film was done by photojournalist Dan Habib, a father who documented his son Samuel's needs with education resulting from his cerebral palsy, as well as struggles and experiences of others with disabilities.
"We just kind of wanted to show it to kind of raise awareness and to open up people's eyes to what kind of stuff is out there," said Aaron DeVries, advisory council chairman.
DeVries' son Aidan, 10, is in Austin Public Schools in general education and his daughter Cecelia, 9, is in special education. He and his wife, Regina, think that Cecelia does best when she's able to be in the general education classroom and socialize with typical peers.
"The kids, I think, are easier with it than adults are sometimes," DeVries said.
His daughter's classmates accept her the way she is, they get a lot out of her and she gives them hugs, DeVries said. Kids are also aware when they're being pulled out of classes, he said.
"It's just hard to be inclusive if people are being treated differently and they're getting educated in a different manner," DeVries said. "I kind of personally feel it's a right for everybody to be educated in the same fashion. Other people don't agree with me."
The film briefly touched on what school was like for kids with disabilities back in the 1960s and 1970s, when they weren't included in the general education classrooms at all. Fids growing up today are more used to lots of different kids in their classes, said Sheri Willrodt, special services director for Austin Public Schools.
"The school systems have come a long way," said Don Fox, school board member, who attended the showing.
Willrodt added, "but there's so much that can still be done."
Austin Public Schools is in the process of some after-school showings of "Including Samuel" for staff members at all eight sites in the district, Willrodt said. They're looking at "taking that next step" on how to pass along this education to students, she said. The film would be another tool added to the inclusion that Austin is already doing.
Danielle Borgerson-Nesvold, chairwoman of Community Against Bullying group, said it would be beneficial for the kids in the district to see a film like "Including Samuel." She also said the message of Inclusive Schools Week and connecting it with her group was simple: to respect one another and not be prejudiced.
"I think everyone really has a lot of faith in our community ... that we can create awareness in this," Borgerson-Nesvold said.