– February 11th, 2013 by Ella Tucan –
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Filmmaker asks “Who Cares About Kelsey?”

Colby-Sawyer students, faculty, staff, and local community members proved they care when they filled Clements Hall in the Curtis L. Ivey Science Center for a screening and discussion of the award-winning documentary Who Cares About Kelsey? Feb. 4.

The event, presented by The Lake Sunapee/Connecticut River Valley Regional Children’s Mental Health Community of Practice, allowed the audience to view the film and then ask questions of its creator, Filmmaker in Residence for the Institute on Disability at UNH Dan Habib, film subject Kelsey Carroll and national dropout prevention expert JoAnne M. Malloy. More than 150 students were present.

“It was eye-opening,” sophomore George Hale said. Tracking Kelsey Carroll’s often arduous progression through the ups and downs of her senior year at Sommersworth High School, Who Cares About Kelsey? offers a very intimate journey into the life of a teenager suffering from emotional/behavioral disabilities and demonstrates the ways schools can help these children.

Junior Anthony DiTomasso commented, “It was like looking back at high school and seeing all the things I saw then with a completely new perspective.”

Having dealt with abuse, homelessness, self-mutilation and ADHD, Kelsey seemed more likely to end up in a juvenile correctional institution than graduate. Innovative educational approaches such as the positive behavioral interventions and support and the youth-directed planning process called RENEW helped Kelsey navigate through her last year of high school, as well as her difficult relationships with her family and boyfriend, and grow into a confident, motivated young woman.

“It’s a great program they have,” first year student Moriah Boivin said. Junior Brianna Cram who graduated from Sommersworth, explained, “I got more of an inside view… There were huge changes that show the diversity in students and the efforts being done to help them.”

Who Cares About Kelsey? took two years to shoot and more than a year to edit. Serious, smart and sad without ever losing its sense of humor, Habib’s film drew a highly involved response from the audience, who asked personal questions about how to better understand and support family members and friends in situations similar to Kelsey’s.

Another Colby-Sawyer student said, “I relate to it a lot.… I just got diagnosed with ADHD. It takes a lot of courage to open up.”

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