News from Mahopac Public Library on screening of a documentary on autism written and produced by two Mahopac High School graduates:
“Heart Child” is a powerful and intimate documentary about autism, and one woman’s national and international mission to help autistic children through skateboarding. The film was written and produced by Ben Duffy and Michael Sassano, both graduates of Mahopac High School. “Heart Child” will be screened at Mahopac Public Library on Thursday, May 30, at 6:30 pm; registration is requested.
“Heart Child” focuses on Crys Worley, the founder of the A.Skate Foundation – Autism, Skating with Kids through Acceptance, Therapy, and Education (askate.org). Despite dealing with her own life-threatening health problems including asthma and congenital heart disease, Crys made it her mission to help her son Sasha, now 8, who had three diagnoses of autism by the time he was 22 months old. Through skateboarding, autistic children are given “an outlet that is free of rules or judgment, and allows them to be social without being “social”.”
With the support of major corporations like Pepsi and Vans, A.Skate provides one-on-one skate lessons in an environment that is appropriate to their sensory needs. They offer this service at no cost to the families who participate, and they provide the skateboard gear and safety equipment (helmets, skateboards, and such) for the children to use during their skate session. A.Skate strives to make the experience as incredibly successful for the child as possible.
Ben Duffy discovered A.Skate through a skateboarding website, and contacted Crys to tell her that he wanted to make a film about her. Duffy is a 23 year old filmmaker, originally from Mahopac, who has been making films since he was 13. He attended the School of Visual Arts in New York City in 2007, but left after his freshman year to do camera work with professional skateboarders, and to fulfill his dream of making a feature length skateboard documentary. After a year and a half, Ben fulfilled that dream by filming and producing “We Are Skateboarders,” which premiered in 27 venues around the world.
Michael Sassano, Duffy’s best friend and partner in the making of “Heart Child,” is a recent graduate of the School of Visual Arts with a bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Sassano won Best Undergraduate Film Award at the 2010 Ivy Film Festival and the 2010 US film and video competition for his short experimental film “Excerpts from Suki’s Diary.” He has a strong connection to “Heart Child” because of his first hand experience with his 20 year old brother, Jason, who has a very severe case of autism.
Duffy and Sassano shot most of this film in Alabama where A.Skate is based. They filmed additional footage at A.Skate Clinics in California, New York, New Jersey, and Ireland. To view a trailer for “Heart Child” visit www.heartchildthemovie.com, or watch the “Heart Child Promo” on YouTube.
This “Heart Child” screening is presented in cooperation with Putnam Associated Resource Center, Putnam Independent Living Services, and the Mahopac Special Education PTO. To attend this free screening, please register at www.mahopaclibrary.org, or call 845-628-2009, ext 100.