LUDWiG to host Feb. 8 film screening

The Lawrence University Disability Working Group (LUDWiG) will be screening the documentary film “Crip Camp” on Tuesday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. in Warch Cinema. The screening will be followed by a virtual discussion segment in which facilitators from the organization guide the audience through questions related to how the film resonated and how it could translate into the present moment with one’s identity and advocacy work, according to Chair of LUDWiG Alex Chand.  

The in-person screening of “Crip Camp” will be in accordance with the Warch Cinema’s COVID-19 capacity policies. Virtual viewing options include viewing the documentary on YouTube, using the link on LUDWiG’s discord channel or RSVPing to get emailed a link from the organization.  

Through Anneliese DeDiemar ‘03, LUDWiG has also arranged an upcoming Q & A in March with Judy Heumann, the subject of the documentary and a lifelong advocate for those with disabilities. DeDiemar discovered LUDWiG through a social media post promoting their first screening of “Crip Camp” in 2020, when the organization was initially formed. After contacting Chand, DeDiemar aided in establishing a connection between LUDWiG and Heumann.  

“The remarkable efforts led by pioneering civil rights leader Judy Heumann to advance accessibility and anti-discrimination laws for Americans with disabilities foster open dialogue and inspire action,” DeDiemar stated in an email interview. 

The documentary film is set in the 1970s and revolves around a summer camp for teenagers with disabilities called Camp Jened. During this time, when disability rights activists were fighting against discrimination and alienation through the promotion of legal protections that were not previously codified into law, a group of alumni from the camp advocated for a change in legislature on the federal and state level. This advocacy effort led to the formation of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act – one that prohibits discrimination on the basis of disability.  

When discussing activities that coincided well with the Q & A with Heumann in March, DeDiemar and Chand decided that another screening of the documentary would be appropriate. 

LUDWiG also felt that hosting the event was important for the message the film communicates to the attendees. According to Chand, the film’s inclusion of actual footage from the camp highlights how the tightknit community in Camp Jened translates into the campers’ united and community approach to their advocacy work for the disability rights movement. 

On the event’s importance, DeDiemar added that the film’s amplification of a marginalized community elevates awareness of the disability rights movement and creates a sense of urgency for nondisabled people to learn more and do more to create lasting and systemic change, as the camp alumni in the documentary did. Likewise, LUDWiG student representative Rose Williams hopes that the screening and discussion enable Lawrence students to learn about the history of the disability rights movement, particularly with Judy Heumann and her work, which is often not included in the typical K-12 education. 

As the film follows young people integral to the disability rights movement, Chand finds this to be an inspiring viewing experience for Lawrence students. The camp alumni’s protests and activism, such as the 504 sit-in of 1977, in which those with disabilities occupied US federal buildings to push for the enactment of section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, allowed for a shift in legislature on the federal and state level.  

“It’s empowering to watch that as a young person with a disability,” Chand said. “It’s cool to have that visibility and see other young people have done things before, so it’s not just a thing in abstraction. It’s saying, ‘Hey, Lawrence, you are young, but your voice can be heard, you can do things, you can stand up, and there’s something very powerful in that.”