When I Walk

Impact Highlights

When I Walk—a film focusing on the journey of filmmaker Jason DaSilva, who was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis while still in his twentiesis designed to make people more aware and advocate for Multiple Sclerosis and disability issues at home and abroad. The film inspired the development and production of AXS Map, an online crowdsourced mapping project that maps and rates accessible spots worldwide. Toronto officials have approached the filmmakers to use AXS Map as part of the official guide for the Parapan Am games. As part of that effort, they will be working on adding Toronto data to the map and hope for Toronto to overtake New York as the city in AXS Map with the most data for wheelchair accessibility. The film was also the beginnings of creating AXSLab.org, which carries the mission of the film across through its advocacy for people with MS.

Synopsis

In 2006, 25-year-old Jason DaSilva was on vacation at the beach with family when, suddenly, he fell down. He couldn’t get back up. His legs had stopped working; his disease could no longer be ignored. Just a few months earlier, doctors had told him that he had multiple sclerosis, which could lead to loss of vision and muscle control, as well as a myriad of other complications. Jason tried exercise to help cope, but the problem only worsened. After his dispiriting fall on the beach, he turned to his mom, who reminded him that, despite his disease, he was still a fortunate kid who had the opportunity to pursue the things he loved most: art and filmmaking. Jason picked up the camera, turned it on his declining body, and set out on a worldwide journey in search of healing, self-discovery, and love.

Funders

ITVS, NYSCA, Canada Council for the Arts, BC Council for the Arts, Princess Grace Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Firelight Labs, Caam, Fledgeling Fund, The Nathan Cummings Foundation

Key Stats

  • Production Budget: $300,000
  • Outreach Budget: $140,000
  • Facebook Likes: Film: 6,914
    AXS Map: 2,112
  • AXS Map: 362
  • Web Visitors: 85,000

Campaign

Impact producers: Eliza Light at POV

Goals:

  • Disability awareness and advocacy
  • Create a more accessible society
  • Advocate for accessibility consciousness

Target location: North America

Target groups: Target audiences are people in wheelchairs, people with MS, and their supporters.

Partners: MS Society, United Spinal Association, AAPV

Impact

Change in Awareness

Goal: To make people more aware and advocate for MS and disability issues at home and abroad.

AXS Map is an online crowdsourcing mapping project linked to the film; it maps accessible spots in North American cities. A challenge was getting people involved in AXS Map (https://www.axsmap.com/) early because it was so new, but once the filmmakers fused that effort with the film, sign-ups took off. AXS Map is a GPS-based map that collects data that never existed before. To get it going, they held mapping events in given cities, usually in conjunction with film screenings. These events had strong attendance. The audience would come to learn how to use the map, then go out in teams and start mapping places on their accessibility.

Toronto officials have approached the filmmaker to use AXS Map as part of the official guide for the Parapan Am games. As part of that effort, they will be working on adding Toronto data to the map and hope for Toronto to overtake New York as the city in AXS Map with the most data for wheelchair accessibility. The filmmaker is about to go to Istanbul with the US embassy and conduct a mapping event in Turkey and then in Georgia. The campaign had support from several policy makers and nonprofit organizations from the get-go, including Victor Calise at the New York City Mayor’s Office for People with Disabilities; George Gallego, the CEO of Wheels of Progress; James Wiseman of United Spinal; and David Onley, the former Lt. Governor of Ontario. The Ontario College of Art and Design has a big inclusive design program and the team is working with them.

Screening attendees:Unknown

Key Press Mentions: New York Times, Healthland

Change in Behavior

Goals:

  • To raise awareness of disability issues
  • To engage audiences to share with friends and family to rate with AXSMap.com so as to create a new database with accessible locations.

Through public screenings the team was able to bring awareness to accessibility issues and use AXSMap (www.axsmap.com) to raise awareness and combat the issues. The filmmakers held “mapathons” at festivals that screened When I Walk all over America. The changes that seem to be the most impactful come from the users of axsmap.org—on average the website gets 200 hits daily and the film was a huge component to this.

Political Impact

When I Walk has:

  • Been screened within state, national or international legislatures, or the EU or UN
  • Been used by partner organizations to lobby politicians or lawmakers
  • Created new political advocates
  • Been used as evidence in governmental committees

The team has met representatives in DC and has plans to travel globally to showcase the films through American Embassies.

Building Capacity

The team used the film as a launching point to promote AXS MAP, which helped create some definite results. The film was the beginnings of creating AXSLab.org, which carries the mission of the film across through its advocacy.

Festivals/Awards: Jason DaSilva received the following personal awards: The American Association of People with Disabilities (AAPD): 2014 Paul G. Hearne Leadership Award; New Mobility Magazine—Person of the Year (2014) Award; Utah Film Commission’s Kim Peek Award (for disability awareness in film)