Video tells tale of acceptance of persons with disabilities

by Chris Bolster | reporter@prpeak.com
Published: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 9:14 AM PDT
A Powell River woman who works with people with disabilities has been recognized by inclusion BC for a short video she made last fall.For the past four years Christine Townley has worked for inclusion Powell River, and before that she worked in Sechelt for Community Living.

Currently she is an advisor for Powell River Self Advocates, a group for people with developmental disabilities which helps empower individuals to speak up for their rights. She also recently took on the position of community connector at the non-profit. She studies at Vancouver Island University in the disability studies program.

The video she made, entitled Pop Can Puppet Show, was for a class project last fall.

“I thought it would be funny, but never in a million years did I think it was going to win,” said Townley. She said she submitted her work “on a whim.”

Inclusion BC announced the winners from the 2013 contest at the beginning of April on its website.

Townley was surprised to find out she had won because it had been so long since she entered the contest and she did not hold much hope out for her submission.

The video, which was posted to YouTube by the provincial advocacy organization, was built around the idea of promoting inclusion, said Townley.

“At the time I was taking a course and I had to do a puppet show,” she said. She was able to choose anything covered in the first six weeks of the class that she felt passionate about, so she chose people-first language and capacity building.

“People-first language is a way of speaking that is nicer, that puts people first and not their disability,” she said. “It’s about recognizing assets, instead of looking at deficiencies, and being careful of the language that we use. Instead of saying, ‘that autistic kid’ you would say ‘that person with autism.’”

Townley feels strongly about the power of language. “Anyone with a voice can do it and it makes a difference,” she added.

The five-minute video, set at a high school, is designed to make people more aware of their behaviour around acceptance of persons with disabilities and challenge the commonly held idea of seeing people for what they lack instead of what they can offer.

“It’s really goofy and elementary, but pretty funny,” she said. “Lemony Lime is different. He’s more of a juice than a pop.”

The student took catalogue cutouts of people and pasted them to the outside of pop cans and then created voices and personalities for each character.

She thinks it caught the judges’ attention because the message is basic and the short film conveys the point well.

In the end the other pop cans realize that Lemony Lime has many talents and they begin to appreciate and accept him more, she said.

Townley won $750 for the short film and plans to donate the money to Powell River Self Advocates group.

Readers can watch the video online.