A local group of students with autism is turning to the power of television to raise awareness about the disorder. They are shooting short news reports that will ultimately air on 17 News and the first report airs Monday night.
The students at Inclusion Films typically work on short films but, this time, they're emulating the news business by developing stories that matter to them.
It starts with a morning news meeting. Actor and filmmaker Joey Travolta leads a group of autistic students who are going to become news reporters. They decide their first story will educate first responders about how to deal with autism.
"Treat you guys with some dignity and respect. Let them know you're just like everyone else. Autism is just a label," said Ramona Puget with the Kern Autism Network.
Puget put on a workshop about the topic. It's there students shot video and conducted interviews for their news story. To help students get a taste of the news business, 17 News invited the group to tour our studio. It was a behind-the-scenes look as they watched the news team gear up for the noon newscast.
"It was my first time being in a news studio, it was like, 'wow I'm here. I'm going to brag about it later. Put it on Facebook," said Inclusion Films editor Paul Gomez.
Inclusion Films strives to show students what it's like in the working world, even giving them job opportunities in film. Many of the students have dreams of working in Hollywood.
"You've got to go for what you want in life especially when you are already limited with disabilities," said David, a student at Inclusion Films.
But these students hardly let their disabilities get them down and their goal is to show Kern County they have a voice through story telling.
Tonight on 17 News at Five, you can see the full story on autism produced entirely by Inclusion Films.