Curtain rises on student-created documentary Oct. 31

Five Niagara College students will soon see a film they created premiere on the big screen.

Inspiring Potential, an autism awareness documentary they created for Autism Ontario – Niagara Region Chapter, will be featured for a one-time screening at Landmark Cinema in St. Catharines on Oct. 31. The 30-minute documentary aims to help viewers understand autism spectrum disorders (ASD) by explaining it through the personal stories of five local families.

Representatives from Autism Ontario – Niagara Region Chapter approached Niagara College earlier this year with the idea of making a short documentary as part of its autism awareness campaign. A team of students in their third year of the College’s Broadcasting: Radio, Television and Film program, took on the project with enthusiasm as part of a class corporate video project. The team included Kalyna Taras (producer), Jenna Silta (director), Mark Ventresca (camera operator), Brad Curran (audio) and Mac Kropf (editor).

Taras, 23, said the experience was an amazing opportunity for her and the team of students. “We always knew the goal was to have this shown on the big screen which raised our standards and expectations for ourselves and this doc,” said Taras. “I’m most looking forward to the reactions from the five families in the film but also how this will affect the community – both ASD community and local community.”

“This is exactly the type of project we like our students to become involved in; working with members of the local community and creating a production that, in this case, wonderfully documents the lives of children and their families as they address autism,” said Broadcasting professor Bill Boehlen. “This project is a perfect opportunity for our students to create a high quality production for a real-world client and to work with local families whose lives have been affected by autism.”

Taras, a St. Catharines resident, noted that the project not only offered valuable experience in her chosen field but gave her an opportunity to make a difference in her hometown. “Being local, I love contributing and giving back to my community, and this has been a great way to do so,” she said. “I am so proud of my whole team and the work we’ve been able to do for the Autism Society. Doing the project and meeting these families has inspired me to be more involved in non-profits in my community, and to continue creating content that is meaningful to me and has an impact on lives.”

Jordan Shaw, communications and volunteer coordinator for Autism Ontario – Niagara Region Chapter, said the final product exceeded their expectations. “The team of students who created this documentary were amazing to work with on this project. They have been professional and kind, and right from day one they have put their heart and soul into this film,” said Shaw. “We are so grateful for their dedication and enthusiasm and appreciate all the work they have done to help raise awareness about ASD in the Niagara region.”

The documentary premiere wraps up National Autism Awareness Month, and Autism Ontario – Niagara Region Chapter’s Burst the Bubble: Understanding Autism campaign. According to Shaw, more than 5,000 people in the Niagara region have been diagnosed with ASD – a lifelong neurological disorder that affects the way a person communicates and relates to people and the world around them.

“We want people in the community to see this film and come to better understand the lives of families that have been touched by ASD,” said Shaw. “We want people to be aware of the challenges families face on a daily basis, but also to realize that with support, these challenges can be overcome and every individual can have the opportunity to realize their potential. One in 94 people in Canada are diagnosed with ASD and it is by learning about autism that our community can become a more accepting and supportive place for all individuals.”

To learn more about ASD or support the work of Autism Ontario – Niagara Region Chapter, please visit

The premiere of Inspiring Potential will be held at Landmark Cinema, St. Catharines on Saturday, Oct. 31 at 10:45 a.m. It will begin with brief opening remarks and end with a presentation to the families and students who created the film. The movie is free for the public to attend, due to Landmark Cinema’s sponsorship of the screening.

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Niagara College offers more than 100 diploma, bachelor degree and advanced level programs at campuses in Welland, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Niagara Falls; as well as more than 600 credit, vocational and general interest Continuing Education courses. Areas of specialization include food and wine sciences, advanced technology, media, applied health and community safety, supported by unique learning enterprises in food, wine, beer, horticulture and esthetics. For more information visit

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