My Son, His Friends, and an Inclusive Film

October 24, 2014

Russ Ewell

Art is the Queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.

Leonardo da Vinci

The scientific discovery and technological wizardry of the 21st century can obscure the power of art. Science may discover and even breakthrough, but only art makes the eye twinkle and the heartbeat.

The twinkling of my eye and beating of my heart were pronounced when I heard about my son, his friends, and a new film in development.

Inclusion as inspiration

My son Jonathan has never allowed Down Syndrome to keep him from building friendships with his typical peers. Ben Middlekauf is one of those typical peers. Ben is younger than Jonathan, but growing up he always wanted to hang out. Ben was attracted to and amazed by the friendship Jonathan shared with Will Eleazer.

Ben was part of the original team responsible for building the award-winning E-Soccer program, so inclusion has been part of his life from the beginning, but being younger he was not a direct peer of Jonathan’s. What he had was a unique perch from which to develop a perspective on how special needs and typical kids become best friends.

Ben has plummeted the depths of his inclusive experience to write a script for his movie project called Tentura.  He wants to inspire everyone with the power of inclusive friendship.

Inclusion as art

Ben attends NYU where he has developed a stellar team to create his movie inspired by the inclusive friendship Jonathan and Will share.

While this movie is not specially about special needs children or adults, it is an artistic attempt to communicate the lessons learned and impact of an inclusive friendship on a typical kid growing up.

This typical kid is Ben Middlekauf and I am personally excited about his effort. They are in the developmental process for the film, and if you would like to know more or even support it financially you can get more information here.

Note:  For those who want to see Ben’s work involving those with special needs, the story below is on a young man with Asperger’s.

Inclusion as family

Why am I so excited and sharing this artistic work with you?  I remember Ben when he was around 5 years old, and my hope was our inclusive E-Sports programs would leave a lifelong imprint on youngsters like him. My dream was these kids would grow up and promote inclusion…that they would always have a place in their heart for those with special needs.

Ben has fulfilled my deepest hopes and aspirations. He even went out of his way to assure me our privacy as a family wouldn’t be infringed upon, and as you can see by the artistry, symbolism, and metaphor he has fulfilled his promise.

Ben is truly family and I wish him the utmost success in his endeavor. We need more students and leaders like him!