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Naperville Kids Get Time in the Spotlight

Erin Feeny doesn’t let her disability define her. The 24-year-old writer from Naperville got the red carpet treatment for her first film premiere at Hollywood Palms.

Erin, who is confined to her wheelchair and unable to speak due to her cerebral palsy, wanted to write a film that resonated with her and her friends.

“I wanted to tell my story about bullying (and that) disabled people need respect and not judge a book by its cover,” she said.

The movie, Kids in Toyland, follows the story about kids who are dropped into a magical world, when bullies invade they have to defeat them.

Real life issues made it a personal story for the group to tell.

“We used the actors in our Spectrum Program who are actors with special needs or disabilities who might need a modified learning environment. One of our actors has written short stories and fairy tales that have to do with social issues and this particular one is about bullying. So we took her story and used our Spectrum actors and are celebrating the premiere of the film tonight,” said Heather Hutchison, Program Director for Artful Impact.

Actors, directors and everyone involved got the Hollywood treatment, walking the red carpet and posing for the paparazzi.

This was the first time the group produced a film, making it a learning experience for everyone.

“It basically breaks the boundary about what people who learn differently can do and what they can offer. If we can modify a little on our part they can take part in any activity like anyone else can. So we are showing that and allowing them to take these opportunities,” said Hutchison.

“Anybody can do anything, it doesn’t matter your capabilities or your disabilities. If you work hard and are passionate about what you want to do like these kids are, they want to be in the movies, they want to be on stage if you have your patience and take your time with them, they can do anything,” said Director of the film, Billy Surges.

Naperville News 17’s Natalie Vitale Reports.


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