Documentary: Campers with Special Needs

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“Just Like Us” will premiere at the 2017 Phoenix Film Festival, and it’s the story of campers with special needs who camped out at Camp Tatiyeee in Pinetop-Lakeside. We’ll talk to the film’s director, Adam Benavides and Pam Swanson, the executive director of Camp Tatiyee.

TED SIMONS: "JUST LIKE US" PREMIERED AT THE FILM FESTIVAL A FEW WEEKS AGO AND JOINING US THE FILM'S DIRECTOR. BUT BEFORE WE GET TO ADAM, SUMMER CAMP IS A TREAT FOR THOUSANDS EVERY YEAR. BUT PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS USUALLY MISS OUT. A NEW DOCUMENTARY LOOKS AT AN ARIZONA CAMP FOR THOSE LIVING WITH SPECIAL NEEDS.
VIDEO: I THINK THAT OUR KIDS AND OUR ADULTS THAT COME TO CAMP ONE THING THEY FIND SO WONDERFUL ABOUT IT IS THEY GET TO BE SOCIAL. THEY ARE VERY SOCIALLY ISOLATED. AND THAT IS BASICALLY BECAUSE IT IS HARD TO INCORPORATE THEM INTO THE REAL WORLD. I DON'T GET SEEN GOING TO THE MOVIES OR DINNER. PEOPLE DON'T HAVE THE PATIENCE AND IT IS AN INJUSTICE FOR ANYONE ALIVE. THINGS LIKE CAMPS ARE VITAL AND IT IS SERVICE WE PROVIDE TO HELP THEM BE STRONG IN WHO THEY.
TED SIMONS: AND JUST LIKE US PREMIERED AT THE PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL AND THE FILM'S DIRECTOR IS JOIN US NOW. GOOD TO HAVE YOU AND THANK YOU FOR JOINING USH. TALK TO ME ABOUT THIS CAMP. WHERE IS IT LOCATED?
ADAM BENAVIDES: THE CAMP IS IN LAKE SIDE, ARIZONA. IT IS INCREDIBLE BECAUSE WHEN I SAW THE CAMP AND SAW IT WAS FREE FOR PEOPLE WITH SPECIAL NEEDS I WENT THERE AND WAS LIKE THIS STORY NEEDS TO BE TOLD. MORE PEOPLE NEED TO FIGURE OUT ABOUT THE CAMP. IT WASN'T -- IT WAS AN EASY DECISION TO GO UP THE AND FILM IT.
TED SIMONS: IS IT YEAR ROUND?
ADAM BENAVIDES: IT IS TEN WEEKS OUT OF THE SUMMER AND EACH WEEK THERE IS A DIFFERENT SET OF DISABILITIES OF PEOPLE WHO COME IN. PEOPLE WHO ARE MAYBE OLDER WITH MENTAL DISABILITY, THE NEXT WEEK IS PEOPLE WHO ARE YOUNGER WITH PHYSICAL DISABILITIES. SO IT REALLY ENCOMPASSES A BROAD RANGE OF THE SPECTRUM. PEOPLE ARE WHO ARE MAYBE DEAD OR HARD OF HEARING -- DEAF -- PEOPLE WHO HAVE COGNITIVE DELAYS AND PHYSICAL LIMITATIONS. EACH WEEK IS DIFFERENT. IT IS JUST REALLY A MIRACLE PLACE.
TED SIMONS: IT SOUNDS VERY SPECIAL AND LIKE A LOT OF FUN IN A VARIETY OF WAYS. WHEN YOU STARTED THE FILM DID YOU HAVE A NARRATIVE IN MIND? AND DID THAT NARRATIVE CHANGE?
ADAM BENAVIDES: GROWING UP I WAS NEVER REALLY EXPOSED TO PEOPLE WHO ARE MUCH DIFFERENT FROM MYSELF. SO WHEN I VISITED THE CAMP AND REALIZED I HAD TO TELL THE STORY I WAS REALLY TRYING TO PUT OUT THERE WHEN YOU EXPOSE YOURSELF AND THERE IS A LINE IN THE MOVIE THAT SAYS IF EVERYONE CAME TO CAMP FOR A WEEK THE WORLD WOULD BE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PLACE. THAT IS REALLY THE NARRATIVE I TOOK. MY EXPERIENCE VISITING THE CAMP AND I WANT EVERYONE TO FEEL. WE ARE NOT MEANING TO BE IGNORE BUT SOMETIMES WE ARE.
TED SIMONS: OLDER FOLKS, YOUNGER FOLKS, ALL TAKING CARE.
ADAM BENAVIDES: ONE WEEK WE WILL SPECIFY FOR KIDS, NEXT WEEK ADULTS AND NEXT WEEK TEENAGERS.
TED SIMONS: ANY CHALLENGES WHEN YOU WERE RECORDING? DID YOU HAVE A LOT OF HAMS THAT WANTED TO GET IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA?
ADAM BENAVIDES: OH, YES. A LOT COULDN'T WAIT TO SEE THEMSELVES ON THE BIG SCREEN. THAT WAS ONE OF THE HIGHLIGHTS. SEEING PEOPLE COMING FROM THE CAMP AND SEEING THEMSELVES UP THERE AND REALIZING THAT IS ME.
TED SIMONS: WHAT KIND OF REACTION ARE YOU GETTING FROM CAMPERS AND PARENTS OF CAMPERS?
ADAM BENAVIDES: NOTHING BUT POSITIVE. THE CAMP DIRECTOR WAS NEARLY IN TEARS AFTER WE FINISHED FILMING. THIS IS AN ALL VOLUNTEER BASE PROJECT. NONE OF US HAVE GOTTEN PAID FOR THIS. MANIA MEDIA DONATED TIME AND EQUIPMENT AND THE CAMP HOSTED US. PAM SAID FOR YOU GUYS TO CARE IS ONE OF THE BIGGEST THANK YOU'S I COULD GIVE.
TED SIMONS: CONGRATULATIONS ON THIS. IT IS A SPECIAL PROJECT WITH A BUNCH OF SPECIAL FOLKS AND A GREAT THING FOR YOU AND THESE PEOPLE.
ADAM BENAVIDES: THANK YOU. IF I MIGHT SAY IF PEOPLE WANT TO FIND OUT MORE VISIT ARIZONAALLIANCECAMP.ORG OR VISIT FACEBOOK.COM/JUSTLIKEUSMOVIE. THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME.
TED SIMONS: THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I AM TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING. ARIZONA "HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDS OF ARIZONA PBS. MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU!

Adam Benavides: Director
Pam Swanson: Executive director of Camp Tatiyee

Congressman Andy Biggs

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