PC READS teams with Park City Film Series for ‘Dislecksia’
October 20, 2015
Park City residents Jackie Blake and Elissa Aten founded PC READS — Park City Recognizing, Educating & Advocating for Dyslexic Students — because they both have children who are dyslexic and found the lack of information and support disturbing.
"As time went on, we saw that there weren’t very many resources, although there were plenty of families who had questions," said Blake, who serves as vice president of the organization. "So, we decided to found this ourselves in hopes that we would not just throw out the information, but become a support mechanism, a resource and advocate for the families and children so they are provided the right techniques and methods of learning, whether that will be within the school system or with outside tutors."
The International Dyslexia Association defines Dyslexia as "a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition by poor spelling and decoding abilities. A student with this disorder has a deficit in the phonological component of language."
Blake and Aten, who serves as president, established PC READS to help raise awareness of this learning disability and provide families with resources to help them learn more and help their children.
About one in five people are affected by dyslexia, according to the The National Institute of Health, Blake said.
"Closer to home, of approximately 4,700 students in the PCSD, about 900 are affected by dyslexia and the majority of dyslexic students are never identified, nor do they receive appropriate interventions enabling them to succeed to their full potential," she said.
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Since October is National Dyslexia Awareness Month and Utah Governor Gary Herbert has declared it in the State of Utah for the second year in a row, PC READS Park City Recognizing, Educating & Advocating for Dyslexic Students will partner with the Park City Film Series to present a free screening of Harvey Hubbell V’s "Dislecksia" at the Jim Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library, 1255 Park Ave., on Thursday, Oct. 22.
Harvey, an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker, has dyslexia, and the film is based on his own experiences. The film also features dyslexic actors Billy Bob Thornton and Joe Pantoliano and world-renowned brain scientists, researchers, students and advocates as they join a movement to revolutionize education.
"I have seen several films about dyslexia and we picked this one, because most are dry and dark, but this one is more [enjoyable]," Blake said. "At the same time, it gives a lot of statistics and facts about dyslexia. It just had some good information. There is some humor to it and it’s OK for all ages, because we want families to bring their children."
The screening will be followed by a panel discussion that will include screenwriter Jack Amiel,
Emerald Date Solutions founder Aristedies Ioannedis, Park City High School graduate Alex Hall and neuropsychologist Dr. Jenise Jensen.
Hall, who is now a senior at the University of Utah, said it’s important for families supporting a dyslexic student to recognize that academic accomplishments rarely come in the form of a plaque or medal.
"As dyslexics, we are, statistically speaking, the ones cheering for our peers as they receive their awards," he said in an email. "For dyslexic children, academic success, in the eyes of parents, should not be measured on a grading scale or by awards, it should be measured by the drive and perseverance that they exhibit.
"Most dyslexics I know, myself included, study up to and beyond 40 hours a week to receive passing grades," Hall said. "What I really want to convey to parents is that when a dyslexic child receives a B or C, he or she likely studied harder than the ‘normal’ child who got an A, and that, in and of itself, is something to be proud of."
PC READS recruited the panel.
"We decided that we needed a professional and reached out to several neuropsychologists and felt it was best to have one from outside the community," Blake said. "Then we looked around to see who would have the best representations.
"Both Jack and Ari are successful in their careers and are very comfortable discussing their dyslexia, what they went through and how they come out," she said. "We chose Alex Hall because we hope families and kids will come out, and he is closer to their ages and still coping with his diagnosis."
PC READS was established out of necessity in 2014, and became a full-fledged nonprofit six weeks ago, Blake said.
"Unfortunately, schools do not have a diagnosis method for everyone because it’s not like eye exams where everyone gets tested for lazy eye or everyone gets tested for scoliosis," she said. "In the public school system, parents and teachers can talk about dyslexia and that it exists. The schools aren’t legally allowed to diagnose. The reason is because they don’t have the staff that are qualified to diagnose."
Schools can, however, give families some type of testing to see what difficulties their children have when they read, but that’s all, according to Blake.
"One of the reasons why PC READS is big on the awareness factor is because the school system doesn’t provide that next step," she said. "PC READS has resources, including neuropsychologists who do testing to see if dyslexia is the difference that they are struggling with to see."
PC READS currently works with 100 families in the area and the number is growing.
"It’s been a pretty interesting awareness factor for us to see how many kids are struggling to learn how to read," Blake said. "In fact, a child who is unexpectedly struggling to learn to read is most likely dyslexic and that dyslexia is the most common learning disability."
Teaming with the Park City Film Series was a no-brainer for PC READS.
"We knew we wanted to show a film for dyslexia awareness and their executive director Katharine Wang said, ‘That’s a great idea. Let’s do this,’" Blake said. "Park City is such a small community and we feel that it’s important for all the nonprofits to work together to attain their common goals and interests. We have found that there is so much overlap in many cases."
PC Reads and the Park City Film Series will present a free screening of Harvey Hubbell V’s "Dislecksia" at the Jim Santy Auditorium at the Park City Library, 1255 Park Ave., on Thursday, Oct. 22, at 6:30 p.m. The screening, which is part of the Reed Community Film Series, will start at 6:30 p.m. For more information, visit http://www.parkcityfilmseries.org .