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Using Film to Advocate for People With Disabilities

Brenna Spector wins 2018 Student Service Award for her work providing insight into the experiences and dreams of people with disabilities.

People  |  Apr 18, 2018  |  By Tamara Marino
young woman

UNLV film studies student Brenna Spector's work with the nonprofit Opportunity Village earned her a 2018 Community Service Award. (Josh Hawkins/UNLV Creative Services)

Film major Brenna Spector, the 2018 Community Engagement Student Service Award winner, has spent the last several years working alongside the marketing department at Opportunity Village to film, edit, and distribute videos that helped the organization cultivate awareness of the experiences of persons with disabilities.

Some of Spector’s projects included coverage of Opportunity Village’s major fundraising events, such as HallOVeen and the Magical Forest, as well as other activities and programs the organization offers its clients, including art programs and job training. She also produced a video in which a group of the Opportunity Village clients cheers on the local Golden Knights hockey team.

Dream Come True

One of the standout projects she produced was the Afternoons with Amanda talk show, which offered an Opportunity Village client named Amanda the chance to live her dream of hosting a talk show while engaging other Opportunity Village clients who share their own stories during the show.

In order to accomplish these projects, Spector sought the advice of multiple constituents both on and off campus. She collaborated with UNLV peers to acquire technical expertise and develop project management skills, and she discussed the project details and goals with her Opportunity Village marketing department supervisor. She also worked closely with Opportunity Village client support staff to approach the project in ways that would meet the clients’ needs and minimize stress.

“It is inspiring to see the strengths and uniqueness of individuals with disabilities through their stories,” Spector said. “I hope the films encourage people to become advocates and allies for people with disabilities and inspire greater community engagement and unity.”

Engelstad Scholars

Spector performed her service through the Engelstad Scholars Program, a scholarship program through which recipients complete 100 hours of community service annually with a partnering nonprofit organization. Leanne Soter, the program coordinator for scholar development in the Engelstad Scholars Program, wrote in support of Spector’s award application.

“Brenna exemplifies the student talent that UNLV has to offer to community partners,” said Soter. “Her leadership behind the camera serves as a model for how UNLV students can combine their passions, skillsets, and resources to further their own learning through real-world projects that have a positive impact.”

The UNLV office of community engagement established four university-wide awards in 2016 to recognize campus individuals for their exceptional community engagement in the areas of service learning, community-based research, faculty/staff community outreach activity, and student service.