VILLANOVA, Pa. – Each fall, Villanova University hosts one of the largest Special Olympics competitions in the nation as thousands of athletes, coaches and volunteers come together to celebrate the culmination of countless months of training, hard work, building friendships and overcoming challenges both athletic and unique to living with intellectual disabilities.
Ten Villanova students from the Social Justice Documentary Film class followed the Delaware County 11 on 11 and 7 on 7 Special Olympics soccer teams for 15 weeks as the athletes grew and developed toward their ultimate goal of winning a gold medal at the Villanova Fall Festival. The end result, “Gold Mettle,” is a documentary short film that gives audiences a rare and inspirational look in to the daily challenges faced by those with intellectual disabilities and their caregivers, coupled with the tremendous sense of joy, accomplishment and friendship provided by Special Olympics.
More than 80 Special Olympics athletes and their families joined the film students for a private screening on-campus at the Connelly Center on Friday, December 9. Following the screening, Delaware County Councilman John McBlain presented a Delaware County resolution to the film students recognizing their work for social justice.
“A main goal for this film was to show the world who these athletes truly are, people with spectacular abilities that only need to be unleashed. Special Olympics allows these athletes to be themselves and reach their fullest potential,” said Nick Carney, student director of the film. “It was a privilege to have the athletes and their families allow us into their lives and tell us their stories. We hope that by opening themselves up to us, their stories will reveal to the world the impact these individuals can have on our lives if they are given the opportunity."
The documentary opens a window in to the daily lives, activities and relationships of the athletes whether at home, work, practice, or spending time with their friends and loved ones. Throughout weeks of filming, the Villanova students formed close relationships with the athletes as they gained a heightened sense of appreciation for their remarkable resiliency and unique gifts, as well as the power of Special Olympics to foster independence, motivation, and community.
“Gold Mettle was one of the most satisfying projects that we have worked on in the Social Justice Documentary Film program. The relationships formed between the athletes and our students is the great by-product of the filmmaking process,” said Steve McWilliams, director of the Social Justice Documentary Film program. “The film demonstrates the power of sport for social change. The athletes offered us a unique perspective on what it means to be successful on the fields of play.”
About Villanova University: Since 1842, Villanova University’s Augustinian Catholic intellectual tradition has been the cornerstone of an academic community in which students learn to think critically, act compassionately and succeed while serving others. There are more than 10,000 undergraduate, graduate and law students in the University's six colleges—the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Villanova School of Business, the College of Engineering, the College of Nursing, the College of Professional Studies and the Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. Ranked among the nation’s top universities, Villanova supports its students’ intellectual growth and prepares them to become ethical leaders who create positive change everywhere life takes them. For more, visit www.villanova.edu.