I have a friend with Friedreich's Ataxia. She has been in a wheelchair since the day I met her well over twenty years ago. She will always be in a wheelchair. She's coming up to her 40th birthday and her 3rd wedding anniversary. You might think these are common celebrations in the lives of many people. But when I tell you she was told she wouldn't make it to her 16th birthday you might have a different view.
My friend is an intelligent, well educated woman who fights for the rights of other people who are physically disabled. I've never looked at her as anything other than a successful woman and a friend. She's worked, she's dated, and she's travelled extensively. So many other people have not been as lucky as she has. Yet, she has suffered a number of hardships we can never imagine. So when I came across the Empowered Fe Fes, a group of young women between the age of 16 - 26 who collaborated with Beyond Media to create a few documentaries I knew I had to share these remarkable women with my plus size readers who can relate on so many levels with these women.
The Empowered Fe Fes (Fe Fes is slang for female) was created and is facilitated by Susan Nussbaum, an employee of the Chicago based organization called Access Living. This organization offers support, education and resources to children and adults living with disabilities. Susan is also in a wheelchair, giving her insight into the Fe Fes and their mission of educating the public and their peers on living with disabilities.
To date the Empowered Fe Fes have created three films, all of which can be purchased for home and institutional viewing:
* Beyond Disability: The Fe Fe Stories - In this 26 minute documentary the Fe Fes talk to the people of Chicago to get a view of how they are seen by others. They touch on many issues relating to women with disabilities such as "access, education, employment, sexuality and growing up with disabilities". This film won a Spirit Award and an Achievement Award by the Superfest International Film Festival.
* Why They Gotta Do Me Like That? The Empowered Fe Fes Take on Bullying - This 12 minute documentary explores the sensitive issue of bullying through the eyes of the Fe Fes. It looks specifically at discrimination at the school level. Using skits they hope to educate those who have been targeted as well as those who witness or have to deal with the aftermath. This short film won an honourable mention at the Picture This Film Festival in Calgary, Alberta.
* Doing' It: Sex, Disability, and Videotape - The Fe Fes get together to dish about sex, sexuality, sensuality and the disabled woman in this 35 minute documentary. We all have emotions and feelings about sexuality not matter what our capabilities. Explore the truths, lies and fears of sex and having a disability through frank conversations about stereotypes, sexual beings, appearance, dating, getting married, forced sterilization, abusive relationships and more. The Fe Fes also include the thoughts of other activists and scholars in this presentation. Here's a three minute clip of this documentary from YouTube:
As you can see from the clip, people with disabilities also come in all shapes, sizes and colors. They have the same thoughts and feelings we often share and they have a great message everyone should learn from. Please show your support to the Empowered Fe Fes and their work.
The videos can be ordered at Beyond Media.