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Award-winning mental health documentary will be shown at Chesterfield Community Center

Thursday night, “Kings Park: Stories from an American Mental Institution” will be featured at the Chesterfield Community Center (formerly the Senior Center).

The award-winning documentary was written and direct by filmmaker Lucy Winer, who was a teenage patient at Kings Park in 1967.

Established in 1885 and closed in 1996, Kings Park State Hospital on Long Island, N.Y., warehoused more than 9,000 patients at its height in the 1950s.

The film offers an inside look at public mental health care in America by focusing on the story of this now-abandoned institution, including former patients, their families and hospital staff, who share intimate accounts of their lives at the facility.

These accounts bear witness to the many changes in treatment, policy and attitudes over the past century.

Psychiatric nurse and Chesterfield resident Jan Gibeau served as an adviser for the film. Gibeau is the former CEO of Charles River Hospital West in Chicopee and former executive director of the Greater Lawrence Mental Health Center.

“It really is an amazing film,” Gibeau said. “It keeps getting sold out wherever it is shown.”

The film has been showcased at major national conferences including those of the American Psychiatric Association, National Alliance on Mental Illness and National Association of Social Workers.

First screened in 2011, the documentary was awarded the 2012 Education/Media Award from the New York Psychiatric Association of Rehabilitative Services.

In a statement, Winer said, “The goal of ‘Kings Park’ is to educate, agitate and cause us to dig deep. More than a call to create increased services and better systems, Kings Park challenges us to face our fears and limiting beliefs about mental illness and mental health.”

The film will be shown at 6 p.m. and followed by a brief review by Gibeau.


Name change

Until recently the Grange building at 400 Main Road has been known as the Senior Center. Now the building has a new moniker: The Community Center/Grange Building. The motivation for the name change was based on the number of other groups that use the building.

“The building is really used by every sector of the community,” Council On Aging Director Nancy Braxton said. “The COA itself is holding an increasing number of collaborative and intergenerational programs.”

Braxton said the new name feels like a better fit for “seniors” as well.

“This was the brainchild of Jan Gibeau who is on the COA board. Her philosophy is that it is not necessary to have an age group label for the senior population,” Braxton said.

As a Community Center, all members of the community can make use of the building and its programs based on their interest rather than their age.

The COA took the name change recommendation to the Select Board a couple of months ago, and the panel approved of the idea.

Braxton said a new sign is in the works. She said the COA met with Dee Cinner of the Historical Society to discuss signs while keeping an eye toward the historical nature of the building.

The Community Center/Grange Building is available for rentals by community members. The fee is $150 for up to 6 hours of use.


Square dance

On Saturday, caller Bill Wiles and the Fall Town String Band will perform at the town’s May square dance in the Community Center on Main Street. The dance is open to all ages with a requested donation of $8. Refreshments will be available. The festivities take place between 7:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

To submit items for Around Chesterfield, email Fran Ryan at fryan.gazette@gmail.com.

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