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It's Our Story Project Shares Oral Histories of People with Disabilities Across the Nation


A few weeks ago I was introduced to Scott Cooper and the "It's Our Story" documentary project.  Scott was stationed at Courage Center Golden Valley for several days.  Although, I knew filming was happening with members of our local community, I didn’t pay much attention. Until, arriving at work the last morning of his stay when Cooper stepped across the hallway to my office, introduced himself and asked if I’d have time to share my story of disability.

What’s happening here is pretty darned cool.  "It’s Our Story" is a video and web compilation of the stories of 1,000 people with disabilities from throughout the nation.  The project started in 2005, with a school history project by Scott’s son Eric, who wrote about Ed Roberts, the founder of the U.S. independent living movement.  Eric, who has MD, did the first interviews assisted by his dad.  Upon completion of his school project, Scott was hooked and took on the daunting multi-year project. 

To date, the project website has logged 955 interviews, in 100 cities and 151 locations.  Many more stories will be added after three days of filming here in late August. Cooper's goal is 1,000 stories logged by July 2010, the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  

During our hour-long interview, Cooper asked me about my history and the barriers I’ve faced as a woman with a disability.  It was a wide-ranging discussion.  As a communications professional, I’ve interviewed people before and been interviewed before, but Cooper is a master at making the interview into a conversation.  That’s a real art.  One question stumped me: What movie gets the disability story right?  I came up with “Born on the Fourth of July,” and then added “Murderball” after some additional thought.  

The web site devoted to the project is pretty cool, but a work in progress.    If you look around the site, check out the clip on “Why this is important”.

As one of the first mainstreamed into public school kids, who had no real role models, this project is connecting the dots of lots of people around the nation.  My hope is that the kids growing up now will have a much easier time navigating through life, and thanks to a project like this, will have access to lots of great stories and awesome role models.

Thanks Scott!