News /PEERS to debut documentary featuring Alameda County TAY in special premiere event
Nearly one year after receiving a grant from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, PEERS will be celebrating the last day of Mental Health Awareness Month by premiering its first documentary on Thursday, May 31 at the Alameda Theatre. Entitled "Shine," the film focuses on transitional age youth residing in Alameda County and their experiences in overcoming mental health challenges and making a difference in their community.
The film features three youth with varied life experiences sharing their stories and perspectives of recovery.
Arthur Renowitzky, 24, was shot while exiting a San Francisco nightclub four years ago. Nearly losing his life, he fell into a coma for three weeks and woke up to learn that he was paralyzed from the waist down. Renowitzky discusses how he processed the tragedy and his turning point in committing to a positive way of thinking.
Markeeta Parker, 23, shares her story of overcoming sexual abuse for the first time, how she is working through the pain, and her hopes and dreams for the future.
Brianna Williams, 23, shares her experience growing up feeling different and discusses the importance of peer support among transitional age youth, or young adults between the ages of 16 and 24.
Not only has the community been inspired by these stories, but the trio has inspired one another as well.
"I think it's amazing for Markeeta and Arthur to go through their experiences and not allow those experiences to deter them from being successful and happy individuals," Williams said. "And it's even more amazing that they want to share it and put it out to the world and change so many lives. Storytelling is so powerful. They will inspire a lot of people who go through these experiences, give hope, and make others believe that they can help themselves."
Parker said that while she did the film to provide hope to others, she in turn received the same gift from listening to her peer's story.
"I feel inspired because it's so easy to lose hope," Parker said. "It's amazing to see Arthur keep going. With what he's been through, he is still motivating others around him, including children. And to see his courage to just live and do what he loves is incredible."
Producer and PEERS Media and Marketing Manager Shannon Eliot sees the positive impact not only on the Alameda County community, but throughout the country as well.
"The issues that these youth are facing are not unique to the Bay Area," Eliot said. "By so genuinely, articulately, and courageously sharing their stories, they are providing inspiration to other youth dealing with obstacles regardless of culture, geographic location, or background."
Renowitzky is optimistic about the film's release and the greater good of the project.
"I feel blessed to work with PEERS and these other youth to be able to put this documentary together," said Renowitzky. "I hope these featured stories are able to change a lot of young people's lives, and I'm looking forward to seeing what comes from this."
Following the premiere, the film will be distributed in high school and college classrooms with a corresponding curriculum. It will also be available for online viewing. To watch an interview on the making of the film, tune in to the cable access show Mental Health Matters on July 5 and 19 at 9:30pm. A 30-minute version of the film will screen in the same time slot on July 12 and 26.
"Shine" will be premiering on Thursday, May 31 at the Alameda Theatre. To buy tickets or to learn more, visit http://shinepremiere.eventbrite.com.