Camp Jened was a sleepaway camp for teens with disabilities from 1951-1977. Located in the Catskills, the camp existed primarily give young people with disabilities the chance to meet friends like them. It was an opportunity to overcome isolation, discrimination, and institutionalization—all typical components of having a disability at that time.
Like any summer camp, the bonds formed at camp were strong—so strong, in fact, they fostered a sense of community and belonging that directly tied into the American disability rights movement in the '70s.
Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution is about that movement. Streaming now on Netflix, the documentary relies on old footage from the '70s to portray what Camp Jened was like—a place filled with sports and crushes, and one that helped campers feel like human beings.
Executive produced by President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, the film catches up with campers who recall their involvement in 1977's 504 Sit-In, a disability rights protest that led to long overdue changes to the 1973 Rehabilitation Act, a precursor to the modern-day Americans with Disabilities Act, which ultimately secured life-changing accessibility to millions.
The film is a perfect reminder that protests affect change. Even when it feels impossible, keep fighting.
Check out the trailer: