Leading PA Disability Agencies Unite Against Damaging Messages in Hollywood Movie ‘Me Before You’

Harrisburg, Pa. (June 7, 2016)–The Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Act Network, which is comprised of the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (PADDC), Disabilities Rights Pennsylvania (DRP) and the Institute on Disabilities at Temple University, says the movie ‘Me Before You’ is a perfect example of how stigma against people with disabilities is embedded in our culture and most people don’t realize they contribute to it.

The Hollywood romance movie which recently premiered in theaters all across the country and stars British actress Emilia Clarke, is about the relationship that develops between a female caretaker and a rich, good-looking man who is left paralyzed after an accident.  It’s the man’s outlook on life that he would rather be dead than live as a person with a disability that is offensive, hurtful and damaging.

“The idea that the character with a disability views his life as worthless, pitiful and a burden on others is sending the wrong message,” Graham Mulholland, Executive Director of PADDC, said.  “The truth is that people with disabilities live fulfilling, meaningful and purposeful lives.  There are thousands of people living with disabilities that choose to prosper, fight and live life to the fullest.”

Through its three Pennsylvania agencies, the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Act Network was established under federal law to provide advocacy, systems change and capacity building for people with developmental disabilities.  Representatives say the movie perpetuates harmful, stigmatizing stereotypes.

“We are proud to unite with other disability organizations across Pennsylvania to take a strong stand against this mainstream stigma that has a negative impact on people with disabilities and our society as a whole,” Celia Feinstein, Co-Executive Director of the Institute on Disabilities, Temple University, said.  “We must all join forces to end stigma.  We are committed and dedicated to this challenging task and encourage others to rethink seeing this movie.”

For more information regarding this press release or the Stigma Project which was launched in April to help end the stigma against people with disabilities in Pennsylvania, please contact Karen Gross at Karen@suasion.us or via phone at 717-432-2468.

About Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council (PADDC)

The PADDC is a group made up of people with disabilities, family members, advocates, and state department representatives who work to create favorable conditions for people with developmental disabilities and their families in the Commonwealth www.paddc.org.  The organization launched the Stigma Project campaign in April to change people’s thinking, behavior and attitudes toward people with disabilities.  The provocative campaign which asked the question, “What are you thinking?”, boldly placed common stigmatizing thoughts on bubbles across the state to get people’s attention regarding this important subject.  For more information on the Stigma Project, visit www.LetsThinkAgain.org.

About Disability Rights Pennsylvania (DRP)

DRP protects and advocates for rights of people with disabilities so that they may live the lives they choose, free from abuse, neglect, discrimination, and segregation.  Its vision is to help create a Commonwealth where people of all abilities are equal and free www.disabilityrightspa.org.

About Institute on Disabilities at Temple University

The Institute on Disabilities is Pennsylvania’s University Center for Excellence at Temple University. Since its inception, the Institute has continued to innovate and serve in four core areas – pre-professional training, community training and technical assistance, research and information dissemination. Located within Temple University’s College of Education, the Institute addresses disability as a valued aspect of diversity throughout civic life www.temple.edu/instituteondisabilities/.