Back Camp SummerSign students film movie for Deaf community, gaining national attention

November 8th, 2011

Every summer, a group of Deaf students and their siblings fill the halls of Brentwood Baptist for eight weeks to attend Camp SummerSign. And for several years during the camp, they've participated in an annual film project to impact the community.

"Every year since the camps started with my sister, these kids would write a script for a short film or drama related to drug and alcohol prevention and the Deaf," said Beryl Corey, Director of Special Ministries for the Deaf Church. "They came up stories about the Deaf in a hearing world."

This year's film is called "Alone in a Hearing World" and follows the real-life situations of a young deaf boy growing up with family members who can't communicate, teachers who misunderstand, and friends who influence him toward destruction. Throughout the movie, his curiosity and inability to communicate causes him to experiment with drugs.

Brian Sims, pastor of the Deaf Church, along with Beryl, the students, and other members of the Deaf Church, all played major parts. Mac Mackey, whose mother died tragically in a fire on April 10, played the main character, selected by his peers for the role.

"What a tribute to his mom, who was Deaf, and to his dad, who is Deaf and very involved in our church" Beryl said. "Mac is hearing and phenomenal. His mom would've been on the front row beaming at his performance."

The movie projects have evolved into a major undertaking each summer, along with the kids technological skills. Since 2006, they've followed the leadership and direction of Laura Lekowicz with STARS-Nashville Services for students who are Deaf and hard of hearing.

"Laura has been with our camp and church for many years," Beryl said. "She meets with the youth, who create the context of the movie, casts and films the movie. She does all the filming and editing, and gives us a final production. They choose 8-10 film site locations each summer. She's taken them to prison cells and parks, solicited police officers and teachers, and much more. ... It's a huge undertaking. She's extremely talented and so are the kids."

At the end-of-summer parent program, their film and hard work is debuted. Beryl said, "Laura also took the movie from this year and posted it on YouTube. In less than one week, it had 10,000 hits. It was an overwhelming success and the feedback was tremendous."

The film actually hits home for many families with Deaf children. Beryl said it's what life is really like for some people—highlighting the things they struggle with.

"That's why this is an important intervention and prevention tool," Beryl said. "My hope is that, in families with a Deaf child, parents will say, 'I don't want this to happen to my child.' Language is crucial. Communication is imperative—in both hearing and Deaf families. This allows us to have a tool to reach the Deaf nationwide—and even globally."

Story by Kaylan Christopher, Staff Writer & Editor