Teenagers within the autism spectrum teaching production skills

Gloria Henriquez/Global News

MONTREAL — It’s not rare to see teachers inspiring their students to become teachers themselves.

For Spectrum Productions‘ former students, following in their teachers’ footsteps has a deeper meaning.

“It’s really cool,” said Anthony Campoli, a student turned teacher after attending several of Spectrum Productions’ film-making summer camps.

“Now I’m producing, helping people with different projects as far as scripting and editing goes.”

Campoli is now an employee of the summer camp, which caters exclusively to kids and teens within the autism spectrum, helping them produce, act and edit their own films.

He helps newcomers like Emily Petsche.

“Making movies is very, very fun,” said Petsche.

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Petche’s father Mike thinks having kids like Campoli teach is a natural fit for his daughter.

“It’s fantastic. This is definitely making her very, very happy.”

The camp started five years ago under the direction of co-founders Liam O’Rourke and Dan Tenveen.

The idea of employing the kids came after their first summer camp. That’s when they created their Employment Opportunities program. The program looks to employ teens within the autism spectrum and with funding from Autism Speaks and Unity for Autism.

WATCH: Liam O’Rourke and Dan Tenveen run a production company where children within the autism spectrum are the directors and producers of their own movies.

O’Rourke has been working with individuals on the autism spectrum for years. He says he sees potential every day.

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“I think this puts us in a really special spot to be able to tap into that potential and give these guys meaningful opportunities,” he says. “Hopefully we can give them the tools to move on to really great jobs in the future.”

It’s a future Robert Girolani looks forward to. He’s been attending the camp since the very beginning.

“I’m thinking that after I get enough experience from this place, I’m gonna try to become a movie actor, like the ones in Hollywood,” he told Global News. “I don’t do it because I want fame, but because I want to show that people like me can make a difference.”

Christopher Dymond is a volunteer with the camp. It’s his first job.

“It means a lot. I feel at home whenever I come here,” he said. A sentiment echoed by Girolani.

“It’s difficult for people like the kids here to find a place where they don’t feel uncomfortable or not safe around people who find them totally different.

“That’s not what we do here, we find a way of helping their true potentials come out.”

O’Rourke can’t help but feel proud about his new employees.

“Looking at all these guys who’ve been with us for over five years – who started as kids and now they’re young men – they’re part of the team now and doing a great job.”

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Spectrum Productions plans to continue with its Employment Opportunities program for years to come.

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