My newspaper mentor, hero and the gentleman who co-authored my book, Jim Taylor, has given me wonderful advice over 30 years. One, he stressed in that voice that tells you he’s not messing around, is writing about family members.
“Only do it when you absolutely have to, said Jim, who penned more than 7,500 newspaper columns and radio scripts. “But, for heaven’s sake, don’t make a habit of it.”
While I respect and understand Jim’s point, I’m going to break the rule. Because I want to make a meaningful point.
My wife and I have three grandsons: Nicholas, 14, Christopher 2, and Matthew who just turned one.
I’m sure Christopher and Matthew and I will experience some pretty cool things as they get older — just like Nic and I have.
I’m a pretty proud grandfather of all the great things Nic does: student, hockey player, soccer player, karate, the first-ever junior conductor on Fort Edmonton’s iconic steam train, and voicing Challenge Insurance radio commercials for the last four years.
We’re adding another line on his resume: participate in a documentary film on disability.
Say hello to my good friend Heidi Janz, a noted playwright who is now a film writer and director, with Eva Cholmers. Their first film, We Regret To Inform You, is about Heidi — who lives with cerebral palsy — and her journey with the federal government over benefits she rightly deserved. The film opened some eyes and, more importantly, minds. It also won awards.
“Eva and I had just begun talking about whether or not we wanted to pursue doing a second short documentary together, given that our first film had garnered quite a bit of attention and won a couple of major awards,” Heidi said. “We both figured that, if we did want to collaborate of a second film, it would probably be wise to do it while we were ‘on a roll.’
So Not a One-Way Street was thought of and went into production with funding from Bravo Fact.
Heidi’s idea: to tell stories of people with disabilities as caregivers of other family members who aren’t disabled.
I live with cerebral palsy but I’ve been blessed to be able to share with Nic.
Heidi and Eva picked three families to show how people with disabilities are providing a daily role of caring for others. Nic and I were honoured and humbled to be asked to be one of the families featured.
Through the co-operation of Kevin Shagiec at Challenge Insurance and Jonathon Hector of Corus Radio, Heidi and Eva took a film crew into 630 CHED and filmed Nic voicing a commercial.
They also have footage of Nic and I in out condo editing video, a hobby we both have.
Now, it’s showtime. The premier of “Not a One-Way Street” hits the big screen Sept. 28 — next Thursday — from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. on the U of A campus. Following the film there will be a panel discussion. You never know who might be on the panel.
“If seeing this film causes even one viewer to rethink their assumption that people with disabilities can ONLY be recipients of care, and NEVER caregivers, I feel like we’ll have accomplished what we set out to do in making this film,” said Heidi.
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