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Camp Provides Filmmaking Opportunity For Kids And Adults With Autism

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It's not your typical summer camp.

"I want to be an actor someday," says camper Donny Lund.

The 17-year-old is one of 50 campers participating in the Joey Travolta Film Camp.

It's his third year as a camper.

"I love movies and I'm actually here making a movie and it's like wow, there's a camp where you get to make a movie and it's like oh my God, it's unbelievable," said Lund.

Donny has autism.

So do the other campers participating in the two week program put on by filmmaker Joey Travolta himself.

"They're divided into three groups," said Travolta. "Each group is responsible for making a short film, so they have to create the short film so they write it, they cast it, they make the props for it and they get whatever they have at home."

All while teaching them life skills, like Pamela Harbin's 11-year-old son Aiden.

"When they are in this environment, they feel like their voices can be heard because he's not just one of so many kids in a class that are louder," said Harbin.

Campers range in age from 11 to 36. Elana Slesnick is turning 21 on Saturday.

"I want to send a message to each and every one who is struggling with a disability or to the mothers or fathers whose sons or daughters are struggling with a disability," Slesnick said. "You are not alone."

"They want to be a part of something," Travolta said. "They want to be a part of a team. They want to be a part of a family and that's the great thing about this camp."

Joey will edit the final films at his studios in California. Then, these campers will get the chance to view the films with their families in January at the Waterworks Cinema in Fox Chapel.

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