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Advocacy Unlimited

“Shining Stars” began with a group of young people in recovery focused on developing a documentary featuring the recovery stories of young adults with mental health and co-occurring disorders. The group decided to feature four young adults whose stories would vividly portray their personal journeys of recovery. Applications were sent to Young Adult Programs throughout the state, and from those applications, the team selected four young adults to be the documentary's "Shining Stars." Filming was done at their homes, places of employment, schools, and their communities. The four candidly shared their pains and stories, delving personally into their individual struggles, loses, and trauma for all to see. All four of these "Shining Stars" are remarkable and empowering. In the end, making this documentary helped each one of them reaffirm their hope for continuing recovery and a life worth living, as it will for all young adults viewing it.

The “Shining Stars” project was conceptualized by AU Executive Director Dr. Karen Kangas and implemented by Advocacy Unlimited, Inc. through a grant from SAMHSA's Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity and Social Inclusion.

The Documentary

The Forum

At the heart of "Shining Stars" is a 17-minute culturally sensitive documentary written by, directed by, and starring young adults and filmed by an award winning producer.

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Complementing the video is a web-based forum providing young adults and all site visitors the opportunity to dialogue with and ask questions of the four young adults in the documentary. It is an open forum allowing all visitors to submit topics or questions and to connect with one another for mutual networking, encouragement, and support.

The Shining Stars Forum is easy to use:

• The main page of the Forum lists all the topics currently posted.

• Simply click on the topic you are interested in, and you will be taken to the ongoing discussion for that topic. All replies are conveniently grouped together so you don't have to link back and forth between each individual reply.

• You can begin a new topic in the "Post a new topic" section below the current list of topics.

• HTML and Spam are not allowed. Posts containing HTML or Spam will be blocked.

Centered on the theme of education and recovery, the objective of "Shining Stars" is to provide a highly motivational recovery symposium offered free to young adults in mental health settings, educational settings, and hospitals for the purpose of inspiring hope and allowing young adults to "Uncover, Discover, and Recover."

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy

Governor Dan Malloy

AU was honored to have Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy at the launch of “Shining Stars.” Held September 20, 2011 before a large audience at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford, Governor Malloy congratulated and commended the four Shining Stars on their recovery and triumphs, and stressed the importance and benefit of helping others when help is needed.

AU also thanks and sincerely appreciates guest speakers DMHAS Commissioner Pat Rehmer, DMHAS Director of Young Adult Services Cheryl Jacques, and Ruth Montag of SAMHSA's ADS Center (Resource Center to Promote Acceptance, Dignity and Social Inclusion) for helping make this such a successful event. Special thanks goes to DMHAS Communications Specialist and award-winning videographer Tom Gugliotti for filming and directing the “Shining Stars” documentary.

"Shining Stars" is made possible through a grant from SAMHSA's ADS Center.

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