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Movie Made by Local Teacher Sheds Light on Teen Issues

photo courtesy of Edward Lea for Press of Atlantic City

Atlantic City teacher Devan Blackwell hopes his new fictional short film can bring attention to urban teens feeling isolated because of bullying, drug abuse, mental health issues, dating violence and even sexual orientation.

The Richmond Avenue School teacher spent most of last year making 40 minute movie called ‘The Spe@k Project’.

Speaking to Blackwell says of his film:

“The message is when you don’t have a voice you become invisible,” said Blackwell, a teacher at Richmond Avenue School in Atlantic City. “I see kids walking around who have so much going on in their lives. If they can just find someone to talk to we may be able to prevent a lot of problems.”

Instead of focusing on the hot topic of bullying, Blackwell expanded his premise to highlight several teen issues and direct his movie towards all students who feel alienated and unheard when they have no where to turn and no one they feel comfortable confiding in.

‘The Spe@k Project‘ tells the stories of eight fictional struggling teens, all of whom are portrayed by local residents who donated their time.  Some felt personal connections to their characters. For example, 20-year old Janelee Marcial plays a lesbian who is kicked out of her home after “coming out” to her family, and ends homeless.

Resorts Hotel and Casino is hosting an invitation-only screening of ‘The Spe@k Project’ tomorrow night.

Blackwell’s ultimate goal for his short film?  He hopes school will want to share it with students are part of their curriculum.

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