GROVE CITY – When Ashley Henshaw learned about a documentary that highlights individuals with intellectual disabilities, she knew she wanted to share it with as many people as possible.
“This is just a small step toward educating people,” said Henshaw, who teaches the Life Transitions class at Grove City Area High School.
The high school and the Guthrie Theatre invite the public to a free community screening of “Intelligent Lives” at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 30, at the theater, 232 S. Broad St., Grove City.
“I really wanted to make it an event,” Henshaw said.
The film by Dan Habib follows three young adults as they experience high school, college and work. It also looks at the challenges of intelligence testing in the United States.
It is narrated by Academy Award-winning actor Chris Cooper, who is an executive producer of the film along with his wife Marianne Leone, according to intelligentlives.org
Cooper and Leone’s son Jesse had cerebral palsy and epilepsy, and he passed away after a seizure at the age of 17.
The documentary includes their family’s story and details about their advocacy work for inclusive education.
Henshaw first learned about Jesse by reading Leone’s book, “Jesse: A Mother’s Story,” for the book study group she leads at the school.
The group includes Henshaw’s colleagues, and it’s her supervision project that is part of Pennsylvania’s evaluation system for teachers.
“All of the books are about disabilities,” she said of the group’s selections.
She did some research after reading the book, and that led her to “Intelligent Lives.” She has purchased the screening rights.
The website for the film encourages communities to host a screening of “Intelligent Lives, which is described as “a catalyst to transform the label of intellectual disability from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility for the most systematically segregated people in America.”
Henshaw approached the Guthrie, and the theater agreed to waive admission and donate space for the event.
“The Guthrie was so gracious,” she said.
The film runs 70 minutes, and Henshaw believes that it’s appropriate for kids in middle school and up.
Donations will be accepted to help cover the cost of the screening rights, and to fund future events like inclusive social gatherings.
Students from the high school’s Community Art Class will host an art auction at the screening to help raise money. T-shirts that say “#YouBelongGC” will be sold.
“I’m excited about it,” Henshaw said.
The high school’s community filming group is helping her spread the word by handing out movie posters around town, and she’s hoping for a good turnout.
“We’re hoping to fill the Guthrie,” she said.
She wants movie-goers to come and learn more about individuals with disabilities and all of the great things they’re capable of, and she wants her students to become active in the community.
“I want Grove City to be a place for everyone to belong,” she said.
For more information, contact Ashley Henshaw at email@example.com or 724-458-5456, extension 2151.