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Writers & Books to hold filmmaking, social justice virtual camp for teens

Writers & Books plans to roll out Deaf Children’s Books through its flagship program for youths, SummerWrite.

The two-week camp will mentor deaf and hard-of-hearing teens on the ins and outs of filmmaking with a social justice theme, and is conducted in American Sign Language (ASL) by teaching artist Stacy Lawrence. The camp will take place in the virtual classroom while Writers & Books remains closed for the summer.

Through ASL-conducted conversations about race, deafness and disability, and by analyzing illustrations and identifying stereotypes in children’s books, campers will learn more about how and why racism, audism and ableism happen. Participants will meet writers, visual storytellers, educators and artists from around the county, as well as create and publish in MP4 their own storybooks.

Campers also will learn how activism can transform and impact communities.

Lawrence in a statement said she was “thrilled to be back at Writers & Books,” where she said her life was changed when she watched Peter Cook and Kenny Lerner perform as the Flying Words Project at the venue in the late 1980s. Lawrence developed a first-of-its-kind film camp for deaf and hard-of-hearing teenagers and helped make the Deaf Rochester Film Festival one of the world’s primary venues for showcasing films about and by individuals who have hearing impairments.

“We couldn’t be more excited that Stacy has found creative ways to continue leading this incredible camp,” said Writers & Books Director of Youth Education Sally Bittner Bonn. “Her work with campers is extraordinary, and now, thanks to a virtual platform, we not only can reach youth in Rochester but also can engage teens and tweens from all over the state and country.”

The camp will take place from Aug. 2 through Aug. 13.

Writers & Books is one of the oldest and largest community-based literary centers nationwide and the only one of its kind in the Greater Rochester region.

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