It is a great honor for me to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women's International Film & Television Showcase, it only saddens me that my husband, Tony Blanco, cannot be with me to share this moment, as he would be as honored and proud as I am.
I congratulate you on the beautiful initiative to support and celebrate the dedication, passion and integrity of women in film everywhere, and I thank TheWIFTS Board for considering me worthy of this precious award. I am very sorry to be unable to receive it in person. Thank you!
THE WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL
FILM & TELEVISION SHOWCASE
DECEMBER 10TH 2017
Passion & Integrity
Commerce & Creativity
Equality Not Hierarchy
- United States
Founder - Program Director
The Aurelia Foundation
Lisa Szilagyi is the recipient of TheWIFTS Foundation Career Achievement Award 2017. The Aurelia Foundation is a testament to her determination and driving impetus for children with special needs to lead a normal life beyond their school years and have the opportunity to be a productive and able addition to business and the workplace. At the core of the Aurelia Foundation belief is the idea that everyone has a fundamental right to be included in community life, a right to have a social life and the ability to continue learning and growing.
Lisa Szilagyi is the Founder and Director of the Aurelia Foundation - Creative Steps Day program. Lisa began her career in film distribution, in 1981, and worked for several years in marketing and sales, initially for Producers Sales Organization, and then for Overseas Filmgroup.
The birth of her daughter, Emily, in 1989 was a turning point in Lisa’s life. Emily was born with the genetic disorder Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. Inspired by the challenges that Emily and other individuals with disabilities face on a daily basis, Lisa began working in the field of Special Education, returning to school to get her Special Education credential.
Szilagyi spent nearly 20 years teaching the Life Skills class at Malibu High School, working with teens and young adults with moderate to severe disabilities, and earning an award from the Malibu Special Education Foundation, and the Best Buddies Organization for her work advocating for the inclusion and integration of all students.
In 2010, Lisa partnered with Cantor Marcelo and Janet Ettenger to start the Hand in Hand program, an afternoon social inclusion program at the Malibu Jewish Center.
Hand in Hand is an inclusion program that integrates youth of all abilities in an after school social program. The program provides young adults with special needs an opportunity to socialize with mainstream peers, learn new skills, and have fun. One of the biggest challenges for children with special needs is to find appropriate programs that provide the support they need as well as opportunities to expand their world in a safe and fun environment, and the “buddy program” addresses those needs.
Also in 2010, Lisa collaborated with a group of local Malibu parents and founded the Aurelia Foundation, with the goal of creating a quality Day program to serve the needs of adults with disabilities once they have left the school system. The mission of the Aurelia Foundation, which sponsors the Creative Steps Adult Day program, is to establish individualized day programs for persons with moderate to severe disabilities as they leave the school system and enter community life. The Foundation was created specifically to complement state funding received by the clients, as government assistance is increasingly limited both in terms of funding and resources for community placements. With Creative Steps, we offer our clients a safe, supportive environment where they continue to grow and thrive and learn skills necessary for greater independence and community engagement.
The Creative Steps Community Integration program started in 2013, and quickly grew from supporting 11 adults the first month, to over 65 adults in 2017.The Creative Steps approach is unique because every client is unique. Offering customized plans for each client, Creative Steps provides a safe, caring, enriching environment where adults with disabilities can achieve their full potential, and integrate themselves as valued members of their community. Everyone wants to be valued. Going beyond providing supervision and enriching activities, Creative Steps focuses on developing life skills and social skills, and encouraging community awareness. The program includes job training, in conjunction with local businesses. Creative Steps also works with clients to encourage entrepreneurship, and develop opportunities to create marketable products and sell them. There are regular field trips, and endless opportunities for recreation, music and more.
In 2011, Lisa was honored as the recipient of The Malibu Times Citizens of the Year Dolphin Award, for her work with special needs students in the Malibu area. http://www.aureliafoundation.org/