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'Including Samuel' screened at Oxford Conference Center

 

Photojournalist Dan Habib’s award-winning documentary “Including Samuel” screened this past Thursday at the Oxford Conference Center Auditorium.

The free event was sponsored by parents of inclusion students in Oxford in recognition of inclusion and special education parents, teachers, staff and administrators.

Directed and produced by Habib, “Including Samuel” was inspired by his son, who was diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 1. He and his wife, Besty, live in Concord, N.H,. with their two sons, Isaiah and Samuel.

The film focuses on inclusion, or as it used to be known, mainstreaming, which involves the integration of children with disabilities into public schools with other children. It chronicles the efforts of Habib and his family to include Samuel in every aspect of their life and also documents the experiences of other children with disabilities being integrated into public schools across the nation.

Nicole Boyd, a mother of an 8-year-old child with high-functioning autism and a member of the State Special Education Advisory Committee, helped to organize the event with a group of parents whose children are also in an inclusion setting. 

“We had heard about this documentary from a number of national organizations, so we thought this would be a great documentary to show to some of our educators and parents in the Oxford City School District,” Boyd said. “We really just wanted to celebrate the work that (the teachers) do in the classrooms.”

Patricia Austin, special education director for the Oxford School District, said this was a form of outreach to get people to understand disability.

She said there were several films considered, but the parents decided on “Including Samuel.”

“I thought it was a great film,” said Amy Moore, a speech-language pathologist and a parent of an autistic child. “I particularly liked how it wasn’t just about the school system. It brought in the whole community and the socioeconomic issues involved with people with disabilities.”

Moore said she thought showing the film was a good idea to breach the discussion about disability and inclusion.

“I have an 8-year-old son with autism,” she said. “We’ve been involved in the trenches, just as the filmmaker has been involved in making the decisions about the right thing to do, and how to open doors.”

The film initially debuted in 2007 and has since been featured in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, NPR’s “All Things Considered” and “Good Morning America.” Exceptional Parent Magazine called the documentary a “must-see” film, and it was also honored with an Emmy nomination for the 33rd Boston/New England Emmy Awards.

Habib has been named New Hampshire Photographer of the Year six times, and he has been a judge of Pulitzer Prizes, Pictures of the Year and Best of Photojournalism. Habib has also taken part in the White House News Photographer’s Association.

Habib’s second film, “Who Cares About Kelsey?,” is set to be released in 2012.