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Still shot from Ian, with Ian playing with a girl on the playground with another girl looking on in the background

Short Film about Playground Inclusion wins International Acclaim

Rockville, Maryland, Dec. 6 – All kids want to play. Kids with disabilities are no different. “Ian” is a short, animated film inspired by the real-life Ian, a boy with a disability determined to get to the playground despite his playmates bullying him. This film sets out to show that children with disabilities can and should be included.

“Ian” premiered for audiences around the world on YouTube and was broadcast in Latin America simultaneously on Disney Junior, Cartoon Network, Discovery Kids, Nickelodeon, PakaPaka and YouTube Kids Nov. 30, 2018.

“Ian” started as a mother’s mission to educate her son’s bullies on the playground—one to one. When she realized that the need for inclusion was bigger than one playground, she wrote a book and founded Fundación ian to change thousands of minds and attitudes about people with disabilities. She approached MundoLoco, a top digital animation studio in Latin America, about creating “Ian,” an animated film to deliver the message of inclusion to audiences all over the world.

A Universal Story

Poster for Ian- a moving storyThe film is wordless—a deliberate decision to make “Ian” inclusive of all people. “We worked hard to make it as simple and honest as we could, so it could be understood by a preschool child, yet an adult could discover other layers of the story,” said Gastón Gorali, who wrote the short.

The universality behind the idea for “Ian” spoke to Gorali immediately. “In that first meeting with [Ian’s mom], I felt the urge to do something about it. To get involved. Ian’s story was so honest, tough and yet full of hope,” he said. “The feeling of being alienated is common to all of us. There’s no need to have a disability to have experienced in our lives isolation and exclusion. To find ourselves fighting a force that pushes us away from whatever we want to be and do.”

“I can play and participate”

The real Ian is a fourth grader who, like most fourth graders, wants to play with his friends. But because some kids are not used to someone like Ian—someone who has cerebral palsy, uses a wheelchair, and a computer that works with his eye movements to communicate—they bully him and don’t include him when they play.

Ian wants the world to know that he and all the other kids like him can play, too, if others include them. “I can play and participate,” Ian said.

The film, to him, educates the children on the playground that he wants to play, and they can play with him. In animation, the film “Ian” shows that all children, disabled or not, are made of the same stuff.

Bigger than the Playground

Ian playing with a toy dinosaur on the playgroundWhen Ian’s mom, Sheila Graschinsky, saw how children who were not used to people with disabilities treated her son on the playground, she set to work to change their perceptions. She wrote a book called The Giftabout the daily life of a family that includes people with disabilities, which she handed out to children who bullied Ian, she told Variety. But handing out books on playgrounds would not have the wide impact she wanted.

For Graschinsky, the message of “Ian” extends far beyond swings and slides. The wordless plot of “Ian” is a boy struggling to achieve access to something he wants, something other children have readily available to them. People with disabilities regularly struggle for access to public spaces, jobs and social inclusion. The international attention the film is getting proves to Graschinsky that “a more inclusive world is possible.”

“The film is an opportunity for all society…to break down barriers, walls, and free us from prejudices,” Graschinsky said. The film was crafted to “guide [all children] to acquire concrete tools to be people of solidarity.”

“Ian” premiered at Cannes in May 2018. It was written by Gastón Gorali (Metegol/Underdogs), produced by Academy Award winner Juan José Campanella (The Secret in their Eyes) and Fundación ian, a nonprofit founded by Ian’s mom, whose mission is to make life better for families with disabilities. The mixed stop-motion and CGI animated film has won numerous awards internationally. “Ian” has also qualified for the Best Animated Short category in the 2019 Academy Awards.

Meet the Author

Virginia Campbell
Virginia Campbell

As a filmmaker and writer with a disability, Virginia Campbell is aware of how important it is to hear authentic stories from many different perspectives. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

66 comments… add one
  • Michelle Dec 7, 2018, 9:37 pm

    Beautiful story. It brought tears to my nine year old son’s eyes. I will be sharing this with my children’s school in hopes they will use it to bring awareness.

  • Karen Byrne (munchin) Dec 8, 2018, 8:24 am

    I luv ur story

  • Jeannie J Dec 8, 2018, 2:45 pm

    Wonderful 🤸‍♂️🤸‍♀️

  • Anthony R. Gallo Dec 8, 2018, 7:47 pm

    Rotary clubs in Manatee County, Fl are trying to build an all inclusive playground. We would appreciate your comments on our project.

  • Vania Pinto Dec 9, 2018, 11:26 am

    Just loved the news!!! Hope it Will help children and parents as well. Congratulations!!!

  • Adekunbi champion Dec 9, 2018, 5:18 pm

    Awesome story of inclusion, great message to the world. The barriers to participation needs to continue to be removed for all children regardless of abilities, it’s their their human right.

  • Dawn Chafin Dec 10, 2018, 12:06 am

    What a beautiful story…I was a peer friend in our elementary school for special needs kiddos…And, now, I have one of my own with special needs..Ian is a beautiful story about a sweet little boy (just like Jerry from Miller Place Elementary, and, my own little boy today). As in the story…It just takes one caring heart, to show love and include our boys in the playground fun. Had me in tears 💕

  • Delma Dec 10, 2018, 5:54 am

    Fantastic my boy go through this everyday

  • Theresa Wallace Dec 10, 2018, 8:48 pm

    So very Beautiful made me cry.

  • Sue Smith Dec 11, 2018, 12:29 pm

    What a beautiful film and story.

  • Andrew Cummins Dec 11, 2018, 2:24 pm

    An absolutely beautiful piece of art. I am a fourth grade teacher and I am showing this to my students. Thank you for this wonderful tool for learning

  • TEMBIWE MAGADZO Dec 11, 2018, 3:51 pm

    wow what a story. Its a beautiful story and it touched my heart and its so inspiring. Thank you

  • chathushi Irunika (1) Dec 11, 2018, 11:22 pm

    This Is True..I Love It.. <3 <3 <3

  • chathushi Irunika (1) Dec 11, 2018, 11:25 pm

    This is True..Made me cry..I Love It..

  • Nancy Neiditz Dec 11, 2018, 11:31 pm

    Me gustaría dar ideas a los padres del hijo.

  • Mary Ann T Snedeker Dec 12, 2018, 12:33 am

    This story was shared by a friend. In having a grandson who is autistic with his own disabilities I see in his eyes and frustration how he just wants to belong. The sad part is that it’s just not his age alone but even adults who look at him differently. I read once that when you see a disabled person just don’t stare and wonder in your head what is wrong with that person. Say hello, include them in your conversation and talk to them. They are human beings who long for the same thing we all do. Being accepted. I didn’t know when this was shared I would be able to watch this or was it just a notice of where to watch it. Well I did get to see this and no words are needed. Brought tears to my eyes. I’m going to save this and actually show this to even his siblings. Thank you!

  • Jess Anne Dec 12, 2018, 7:43 am

    A beautiful annimation and story. A tear in my eye. Thank you xx
    Jess from Australia

  • Helen Miller Dec 12, 2018, 11:33 am

    I loved the type of “animation” that was created. I appreciate the ending and the meaning. Including at the end an accessible playground would have added to the “consciousness” of access physical and emotional for all of the children.

  • anjum wasim dar Dec 12, 2018, 2:01 pm

    beautiful touched my heart deep made me cry and remember my own brother. Best wishes and many thanks from Pakistan

  • martha schermann Dec 12, 2018, 2:12 pm

    Fantastic, inspiring, powerful. This needs to go to every politician and government entity throughout the entire world. No words are needed. Thank you for this wonderful piece of work and thank you Ian for the power of your smile and your fortitude. Keep on pushing and nothing will stop you.

  • Moira smith Dec 12, 2018, 8:20 pm

    Wow…inspirational…Mr Browne from wonder would have been delighted 🕊🦋

  • Barbara Versage Bobsin Dec 13, 2018, 12:10 am

    What a beautiful presentation! Just delightful and heartwarming. Thank you!

  • Melony O'Neill Dec 13, 2018, 1:15 am

    Such a brilliant work…illbe using this to teach my grade sevens about Theme! Heres hoping they will understand the message abd consider the needs of two boys in my class with limited mobility!

  • N. Malcolm Dec 13, 2018, 1:35 pm

    As a school counselor, this is a great short film to get the conversation started with my students to talk about inclusion. It is a very powerful and moving message not only for our students, but for adults as well.

  • Marie Ballantyne Dec 13, 2018, 3:45 pm

    I loved your film about Ian. We went through similar issues with our son when he was young. He’s now a happy, 22 year old living in an apartment with a roommate. He uses a wheelchair full time now, but he made a lot of good friends in high school that keep in contact with him through facebook. Thank you for sharing your story in such an interesting way. I loved it!

  • Sonia Dec 14, 2018, 8:15 am

    A powerful learning experience I hope adults learn from the children the same way the children learn.
    I am hoping adults have the same perseverance than “Ian” and teach his friends how to be included in their daily life.

  • Michelle Dec 14, 2018, 8:17 am

    You are a gifted and inspirational writer you made me feel this story without using one word. Thank you for your insight! I know that more of us humans will be able to see this way, if we could feel your video it will help usher open the door of empathy, compassion and inclusion. THANK YOU!

  • Almira Garvie Dec 14, 2018, 8:47 am

    Brought tears to my eyes, such an inspiring Aminated story!

  • Tarja Javanainen-Levonen Dec 14, 2018, 9:41 am

    What a wonderful animation! I passed and shared it in my networks in Finland – for facebook groups of professionals in education and adapted physical activity. For my Christmas greetings in my institute (SAMK – Satakunta University of Applied Sciences in Pori/Finland) I sent the link for everyone. Many tears in my eyes. But wonderful music, wonderful animation, short enough for the audience to watch it – and should ask everyone to watch till the end. The end is very important as well. To see the person who inspired to this – IAN. And his mother <3

  • Stephanie Jackson-Robinson Dec 14, 2018, 11:01 am

    I’m a School Nurse in Waukegan Ill, our Principal wants to show this to our children I think it’s a GREAT idea. This short film is MAGNIFICENT. If this does not move anyone I don’t know what will. Be Blessed, Keep it up IAN.

  • Melissa Frandy Perez Ramirez Dec 14, 2018, 11:56 am

    Heart felt, eye opening story that truly allows any one of whatever diversity understand the challenges . Story relays the impact and great meaning behind inclusion and our children’s needs for therapeutic play.

    Thank you for sharing

  • Carolyn Benings Dec 14, 2018, 12:28 pm

    I strongly identified with this inspiring teaching tool to build respectability for all the disabled, mentally and physically. As a child of the 1950 polio epidemic, with resulting leg braces, scoliosis, hospitalizations, I strongly felt the isolation and loneliness of being “different” during childhood, my heart breaking many times. A small parochial elementary school offered a few peer friendships, but not full acceptance or opportunities to gain that essential self-confidence for building my identity free of stares and apathy; I was simply ignored. So, I silently fought for some degree of acceptance and self-worth through reading and college degrees. I have a caring family now at age 74, living with the pain of post-polio (it is a real physical condition), but the scars of a childhood of disability remain with me. My heart breaks all over again watching the video, realizing that so many disabled children, especially impoverished children— even in the United States- will carry the pain of discrimination with them for all their lives. Thank You for producing this important film/message. Hopefully, it will be used positively as a teaching story to children, but also to adults.

  • Anthony Dec 14, 2018, 12:56 pm

    What a lovely story.

  • Helen Dudden Dec 14, 2018, 1:44 pm

    Again, all I can add is beautiful, simple, and easy to understand. I felt it covered inclusion totally.

    It moved me to tears too, a great way to to show that we need to open both our hearts and minds.

  • Janjce Dec 14, 2018, 2:47 pm

    Amazing short vedio. Vedio says it all.

  • Sherri Dec 14, 2018, 4:44 pm

    Beautiful, touching and inspiring. All children should watch this wonderful film!

  • Linda Schiefelbein Dec 14, 2018, 8:02 pm

    This poignant animated film is beautifully done. I plan to share it with my family and friends.

  • Pelly Aluvilu Dec 15, 2018, 2:30 am

    A beautiful and very emotional story. I am an Orthopaedic Technologist and I work with a lot of children like Ian. They need inclusion and lots of love from everyone. Love the story 😍😍😍 . Thanks

  • Lynda Putnam Dec 15, 2018, 7:26 am

    I am a special education teacher and am excited to show this to my admin. I think this would be a great piece to link a writing project to!!

  • Krissy Eiben Dec 15, 2018, 11:03 am

    I have this same situation at our school…..My 5yr old son with Down syndrome uses a wheelchair and a walker and currently can’t acces the playground…It breaks my heart. Last month I approached our school about fundraising to make the whole playground accessible for my son and others like him in our community….It is going to be our new years project! I was so touched by your video….how you communicated that feeling and desire to be included….I connected completely!

  • Mary Z Dec 15, 2018, 12:41 pm

    Beautiful.

  • Katherine Kittinger Dec 15, 2018, 2:26 pm

    It’s sad in these times that our upbringing of our children has taken the meer act of love and compassion out of our children’s hearts to the point that simple kindness is absent in their day to day life. “Where has the love transcended to?”

  • Carol Dec 16, 2018, 8:03 am

    This is a lovely short film. We would love to include this in our school programme about disability, bullying and inclusion. http://www.iammescotland.co.uk -could you please let me know who would give permission for this – iammeproject@yahoo.co.uk

  • Marcela Senise Dec 17, 2018, 4:48 am

    Touchingly beautiful! No world of children should have barriers of any kind so they can grow more human and kind! Thank you for sharing this.

  • Andrea Dec 17, 2018, 5:24 am

    I woukd like to use this video for an introduction to special education class iteach. My University requires written permission fot copyrighted material.

    • Eric Ascher Eric Ascher Dec 28, 2018, 10:48 am

      We didn’t create this video, so we cannot give you the permission to use the material.

  • Joan Dec 18, 2018, 6:30 am

    Thank you so much for showing what inclusion can mean for all those involved.

  • Michael J kurtz Dec 18, 2018, 2:22 pm

    I loved it! I was bit confused for part of the story about the fence. It all came together in the end. Yes there were some tears!

  • Patty Bristol Dec 19, 2018, 7:14 pm

    I believe Ian will grown up to become a poet and a lawyer someday. 🙂 <>

  • Erika Sedlmair Dec 21, 2018, 12:19 am

    Thanks you for this amazing short film. Lately it has been in my mind how little I know about disabilities. From where I come from, a third world country, kids with disabilities stay home and I did not grew up mingling or being sensitive to their needs until I became an adult. Reason why I’m still ignorant about many things regarding disabilities, but I’m a mother now and I would definitely appreciate my sons being educated and to hang out with kids with disabilities so he learns to include them, befriend them, understand them. It takes a cultural shift of mind to become more inclusive as a society, and also lots of information such as this film. THANK YOU.

  • Mariam Goduadze Dec 21, 2018, 11:56 am

    My respect to all ‘Ian’ in the world and the people who frankly love and look after others, teaches how to make the world more harmonic. I will share this beautiful film with my colleagues and students too. Many thanks to inspiring Ian and the creators of the film! <3

  • Thunder Dec 27, 2018, 11:48 pm

    Thank you! I am a♿ like Ian! Disabled hands from Osteo Early Onset & I fall down a lot hyper mobile. I just recently got a newish used wheelchair. I was afraid of getting Stigma. I was happy my neighbourhood friends said congratulations on your chair getting mobile! My chair broke down on the way home. I am trying to trouble figure it out was like a dying turtle. I have done films & film Festival at U of Ryerson in Toronto Ontario Canada. I will be doing works about Disability Issues in 2019. As there is not enough awareness & education. I can’t thank you all enough for this film about Ian being on the other side of the Fence. I loved it! ❤♿✌

  • Nancy Brown Dec 29, 2018, 10:43 pm

    What an Amazing film!! Our daughter is a stroke survivor and has struggled to keep up with her peers. Now in H.S. she is doing a project on adaptive recreational opportunities. LOVE LOVE LOVE your movie. I pray the message continues to be seen!! Thank you!!!!

  • Kathy Fitzhugh Dec 30, 2018, 6:02 pm

    awsome and thank you!

  • Norma Garrity Dec 31, 2018, 10:30 am

    Beautiful short film. I will use this theme to teach my second grade students. Thank you.

  • Adriana Jan 2, 2019, 8:29 pm

    Beautiful. I teach my Kindergarten students and grandchildren to treat others with kindness, love and respect. I teach them that we are all the same, yet we are all different. We are all unique.

  • Louise Jan 3, 2019, 8:45 pm

    Absolutely beautiful film. Now being shared on all the Australian Autism and Global development delay sites by this impressed special needs mummy. Thankyou for giving us a resource to teach those who have no idea. Xo

  • Rick Jan 9, 2019, 6:09 pm

    This beautiful film deserves all of the accolades it has received. I only wish that my fiancé, who is totally blind, could also enjoy it, independently. The decision to make this animated short wordless sadly is what makes its message inaccessible to the millions of people around the world who are blind or who have low vision.

  • Michelle Feb 6, 2019, 8:31 pm

    This was absolutely beautiful ❤ Thank you for creating…sharing…and enlightening minds all over ❤

  • Sigrid Feb 13, 2019, 12:26 pm

    Muito lindo! Imperdível!!!

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