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Student filmmaker wins disability awareness award

Alexander Freeman ‘14 has successfully managed to find ways to communicate with the world despite being born with cerebral palsy, which affects his ability to walk, use his hands, and to speak fluently.

He was provided a life-changing opportunity in the seventh grade, when Easter Seals gave him tools to facilitate the operation of a computer: a joystick he could control with his head or hands and a knee switch that enabled him to use an on-screen keyboard. Once Freeman was at ease with using a computer, his creativity flourished. He wrote stories, poems, and movie scripts, and continued to refine his artistic side throughout high school, taking up painting and sculpting.

video and media arts major alexander freeman was born with cerebral palsey

Visual and Media Arts major Alexander Freeman '14 working with his assistant Tom Quattrociocchi

Now a Visual and Media Arts major at Emerson, he has been selected for the 2011 Easter Seals Team Hoyt Rising Star Award, which recognizes an individual for his or her determination to change the way people with disabilities think while simultaneously changing how able-bodied people view disabled people.

“You’re disabled only if you start telling yourself that you are,” said Freeman to Easter Seals. “A disability just means that you have a whole new perception of the world and you have a whole new story to tell.”

For Freeman, the story began when he realized that the only way he could be helped was if he told the people who were helping him exactly what he needed them to do. He also learned how important it was to seize opportunities to communicate effectively.

Today, Freeman works with the powerful medium of filmmaking. He writes, directs, edits, and produces documentaries and short films. Currently, he is working on I CARE: A Documentary About Independent Living, which explores the personal care needs of people with different disabilities and what it means to be a personal care attendant.

His film The Raven was screened at Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Theatre. No Limits Media, a film and video production company dedicated to telling the stories of people with disabilities and allowing people with disabilities to tell their own stories, provided Freeman with a professional cast, crew, and the funding to produce this clever and visually appealing adaptation of the poem “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. No Limits Media is currently producing a documentary called Alex’s POV, which is about Freeman and the process of making The Raven. Freeman was also selected as one of just three people to the VSA 2010 AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs apprenticeship program.

Easter Seals will present Freeman with the Team Hoyt Rising Star Award on April 14.  

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