In September 2017, POV asked Swim Team filmmaker Lara Stolman what's happened since the cameras stopped rolling.
Are you still in touch with Michael, Robert and/or Kelvin? If so, what are they up to now?
Yes, I am! Mikey is working at the zoo. He'd like his part-time job to become full-time but transportation is an issue. He doesn't drive, there isn't public transportation for his route and his parents both work full time. His family is advocating with New Jersey's Division of Developmental Disabilities (DDD) to provide transportation but it hasn't been approved and it's uncertain whether it will be. I understand he's entitled to funding and the budget is there, but the issue is finding the proper state certified contractor who is willing to take the job. Mikey continues to swim with the Jersey Hammerheads and now, alongside typical peers at Scarlet.
Kelvin is continuing in his adult day program, which provides job training and placements and is funded by the the DDD. He is currently in between job placements and volunteering with Meals on Wheels. He enjoys interacting with the senior citizens to whom he is delivering meals. Since Kelvin's family lives 6 miles outside the state's approved zone for busing, his parents must drive him daily to attend his program. Kelvin now swims with the Perth Amboy Piranhas, another Special Olympics team.
Robert's parents unfortunately split up and he moved with his mom to southern New Jersey. Rosa must support her 3 kids as as single mom now. Robert turns 21 in November and will then lose school district support. Rosa and Robert are looking for employment opportunities for him that would allow him to pursue his passion in animation and computer games. He's also looking for a new team to swim with.
How about Mike and Maria McQuay and the Hammerheads program?
Coach Mike and Maria continue to work full time in their respective jobs and, on the side, run the Jersey Hammerheads swim team out of the Metuchen YMCA. Although, some of the kids from the original group have moved on to different teams, so it's a different group.
Have the boys and their parents seen the film? What were their reactions like?
The boys and their families have seen the film. They all love it! The boys have come to a number of screenings and participate in Q&As, which has been great for them. Mikey met his current girlfriend at a screening! For Kelvin, the process of attending screening events and interacting with the audience has helped him feel more comfortable in public. He is more interested now in going out and doing things in the community with his family. He feels more accepted and welcome. Recently, his family took their first vacation all together in years.
How have audiences around the country reacted to the film?
We are so pleased with the reactions and feedback we've received from audiences at screenings of Swim Team around the country and abroad. From senior citizens to athletes to children on the autism spectrum, the film appeals to a wide range of people. We're really thrilled that it's resonating with people who are living with autism and eye-opening for those who have very little experience with developmental disabilities.
What do you hope audiences will take away from the film?
I am hoping Swim Team encourages more inclusive attitudes and policies. We still unfortunately live in a largely segregated world that doesn't support or accommodate people with developmental disabilities. We have a long way to go in terms of opening up public school, sports, employment and community life to everyone.
What are you working on now?
I have been pretty consumed with touring with Swim Team and speaking at theatrical and community screenings. We are continuing to make the film and myself and cast members available for individuals and organizations that would like to host a screening. Visit www.swimteamthefilm.com for more information.