Best Summer Ever (view trailer below) is an original inclusive musical featuring eight original songs and a fully integrated cast and crew of people with and without disabilities. The film was written, filmed, and produced at an accessible camp for people with disabilities in Vermont called "Zeno Mountain Farm." The film features celebrity cameos from Maggy Gyllenhall, Benjamin Bratt, and more! Impressively, the film has grabbed national headlines creating needed mainstream discourse around disability representation in mainstream media as a way of improving cultural expectations. Best Summer Ever has been critically acclaimed by The New York Times, Indie Wire, The Hollywood Reporter, USA Today, and Variety Magazine!
Andrew Pilkington, executive producer of the film, has cerebral palsy and has used Easterseals Massachusetts assistive technology throughout his life and to edit the film. Andrew's Easterseals specialist equipped Andrew with adaptive computer equipment and software allowing him to input commands into his computer, and to edit his films he uses his nose and his right foot. “The reality is that creating a film requires thousands of hand movements and hundreds of clicks, so if you have limited mobility, the idea of being a professional filmmaker with CP requires magic. And, Easterseals technology is magic to me. I’m really thankful for that.”
Easterseals is proud to promote the Best Summer Ever film as part of its #TeachDisabilityHistory campaign and goal of re-opening an accessible camp in Massachusetts. The film has been important for supporting disability representation in the media and in highlevel filmmaking culture. As proof of the magic and importance of accessible camps, it’s important to know the Best Summer Ever film was created and largely filmed at a accessible camp in Vermont called Zeno Mountain farm. As historical leader in providing some of the nation’s first accessible camps, Easterseals is collaborating with Zeno Mountain Farm to help raise support and awareness to create more accessible camps in Massachusetts.
“Through Martial Art’s Classes, I’ve learned to focus better, which helps me in school.” Naomi
Easterseals Massachusetts has a rich history (since 1946) of providing accessible camps and is currently working on getting people with disabilities back in camps locally in Massachusetts for 2022. After several years of no Massachusetts camp opportunities, Easterseals hosted a virtual camp for youth with disabilities in April, 2021, with great success and is excited to build on this momentum.
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Easterseals MA started their first camp program in the summer of 1946. There have been many changes to the program over the past 75 years. However, providing a fun and safe environment where campers can feel as though they belong, develop self-confidence, friendships and realize their full potential remains the number one goal.
Thrive is a mentoring program for women with disabilities 14 and up. Through both group and one-to-one match relationships, each participant will have the opportunity to develop the skills of self-empowerment and to promote personal achievement and self-identity within a community of other women with disabilities. Brothers Against Discrimination (B.A.D.) is a mentoring program for men 14 and up with disabilities. Just like the female Thrive, through both group and one-to-one match relationships, each participant will have the opportunity to develop the skills of self-empowerment and to promote personal achievement and self-identity within a community of other men with disabilities.
Accessible Swim is an aquatic instructor-led recreational swim program that allows people with disabilities to play fun, accessible games that maximize independence in the water in a safe environment.
The Accessible Martial Arts program which started at Easterseals MA by President and CEO, Paul Medeiros in 2016, was designed for people with and without disabilities to learn exciting self-defense techniques in a fun, supportive environment. It has flourished over the past five years and was able to pivot to meet the socially-distant demands during the pandemic.