Institutions: Close Them!
Members of People First of New Hampshire who once lived at Laconia State School and Training Center have shared their stories of great hardship yet have moved rightfully forward with dignity as member citizens within our communities. Their stories of inspiration have led the board of directors to demand that all institutions be closed. To this end, a goal to help close institutions began in 2009. Read below to learn about our work.
The Film & Advocacy Booklet
Institutions: Close Them! is a film production inspired by members of People First of New Hampshire to help send the message that all institutions must be closed. Featured in the film are five members of People First of New Hampshire who had lived at Laconia State School and Training Center in Laconia, New Hampshire. These five individuals; Frank, Roberta, Linda, Annabelle, and Joanne share their stories past and present to encourage movement toward community living.
The film producer, John Gfroerer of Accompany, brilliantly captures the stories of the five individuals to help share their rise to a more dignified life within their communities despite their personal and bitter history of having to live in the institution. John chose music from New Hampshire composer and performer, Kathy Lowe, to fit the haunting references that institutions are known for.
People First of New Hampshire has prepared a toolkit containing the DVD of the new Institutions: Close Them! film and an advocacy booklet. The purpose of the toolkit is to put it in the hands of individuals, families, agencies and government to help spread the message about the importance and value of community living and the need to close institutions. Please purchase the toolkit to help send the message in your own state that institutions MUST be closed!
Other Activities Related to the Goal To Close Institutions
Rally To Close The Judge Rotenberg Center, June 9, 2012, Concord, NH
Film Reviews From Around The World
HSRI, The Riot!: "Institutions: Close Them! is a timely and powerful film that reminds us of the terrible loss of life, happiness and human potential resulting from over 100 years of storing people away from their communities. It is clear that institutions have nothing to offer in the 21st Century. Rather, they are costly monsters that consume limited resources better spent on community-based services that support people to have real lives, real jobs, a home of their own, and real relationships with people they choose - just like anyone else."
Michael T Bailey, Parent & Chair of the National Disabilities Rights Network: "With this film People First of New Hampshire has made a strong contribution to human rights. Segregation and isolation of any group is barbaric. It is past the time where institutions for persons with intellectual disabilities be placed where they belong - history's garbage dump. Thank you for your leadership."
Dr Kathy Ellem, University of Queensland, Australia: "A courageous act of people with disabilities who speak of their experiences in institutions."
Karen Hedly, ACT, Canberra City, Australia: "Sad and disturbing yet incredibly uplifting film!"
Jenny Slater, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK: "A brilliant and moving documentary - thank you."
Paddy Turner, Sheffield Hallam University: "The contrast is stark: misery versus happiness; the choice is simple: cease institionalising, close institutions."
Matt Nalker, The ARC of Mississippi: "Your film and the people in the film have re-energized me to double our efforts in providing community supports needed to keep people out of institutions."
Mark Smith, Muroe-Myer Institute: "It's about time."
Kathy Bates, NH Developmental Services Quality Council: "An ordinary life is what is truly important! Everyone in this film is surrounded by people who love and care about them. Living in a community we are connected to each other while still being able to make choices for ourselves. This could never happen in an institution."
Liz Weintraub, Nationally known self-advocate: "Very powerful...everyone should see it."
Vicky Overpeck, CQL: "For 30 years, I worked in a state institution in various jobs. I was always troubled by the treatment and lack of respect for the people who lived there. When I became the Rights Officer and the adviser for our People First group and began to work with the state group, Texas Advocates, it opened my eyes to the possibilities for people - just like those that lived in the institution - to live, work and play in the community of choice. I have seen institutions at their worst (1960's) and although there have been improvements; the institution is still not a good place to live. I would not want to live there!"