Moraga hosts special filmmaking camp for extraordinary minds

MORAGA, Calif. (KGO) -- There are thousands of summer camps across the country, but we found one that is making a difference in the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities.

It's a short-film camp run by director and producer Joey Travolta, younger brother to A-lister John Travolta.

It is a camp for extraordinary minds. A ten-minute dance workout every morning helps to improve memory and thinking skills.

"I taught my brother how to dance. We come from a dancing family," explained Travolta, as he laughs.

Before getting into movies, Travolta was a special education teacher. Now, during the summers, he leads students with developmental disabilities in a film camp called "Futures Explored."

It's held at Saint Mary's College in Moraga.

Fifty-three campers with autism, Down syndrome and Asperger syndrome, among others, spend two weeks making short films.

Here they learn about lighting, camera work, editing, acting and voice.

This is Tim Zalewski's fourth year. "I kinda like when we're just hanging out and filming and showing us the editing, film editing," he said.

He especially likes animation. His mom, Carolyn, said it has helped build confidence.

"Kids with autism, sometimes they are reluctant to try new things. This was a huge thing for him," she said. "It was a huge step and the fact that he wants to come back every year is a bonus."

Explained Travolta, "The social skills, the life skills that come out of film-making because everything that goes into film-making goes into everyday life."

After this camp, all of the student work is shown at a red carpet event in Livermore at the Vine Cinema. For these kids and young adults, it's an unforgettable moment.

Travolta and his staff are now pushing for campers to work as interns in the movie industry.

"They have the skills," said Hester Wagner, who works with Travolta. "We just need to educate the community to give them the opportunity."

They know inclusion builds new opportunities.

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