Fish Out of Water / The River Ward
2011/11/10
By : Cynthia La Grou
Compathos Film with Social Impact Director Series #5, presents a double screening highlighting two amazing organizations using outdoor adventure sports to rebuild lives affected by the trauma of cancer and war.

The River Ward


First Descents (NPO) is committed to curing young adults of the emotional effects of cancer and empowering them to regain control of their lives by experiencing outdoor adventure therapy through kayaking, rock climbing and other extreme outdoor adventure sports. These experiences increase self confidence and empower people affected by cancer to regain control of their lives.

Renown professional kayaker, Brad Ludden, who has traveled as Nike's first sponsored kayak athlete, and who can be seen gracing the cover of magazines such as Outside, Men's Health and Men's Journal, at age 18, founded First Descents, which uses the extreme challenge of kayaking to help cancer patients come to grips with their life threatening illness. Kayaking class VI whitewater is literally a live or die adventure. Brad, having faced these challenges in over 40 countries after completing over 100 first descents, recreates the experiences he has had on hundreds of rivers around the world - on a different physical scale but on the same emotional level.

First Descents started with one camp in Vail, CO in 2001 of young adults setting out to not only conquer Class III rapids but to prove to themselves that cancer could be challenged as well. This group of 14 participants has now grown to 14 programs in 6 different states serving over 250 young adults this past summer. Since cancer has the lowest survival rate among 18-39 year old's - First Descents goal is to reach out to nearly 70,000 young adults between the ages of 18 and 40 who are diagnosed with cancer per year.

The River Ward film documentary chronicles the transformation of First Descent participants into independent and hopeful survivors. Compathos is proud to not only present this film, but to have as guests - courageous cancer survivors from this amazing program who will be sharing their personal experiences at this event.

Fish Out of Water - Directed by Charles Annenberg Weingarten


Sun Valley Adaptive Sports (NPO) located in Ketchum, Idaho, is considered one of the nations most effective and innovative adaptive sports organizations. Their programs attract youth, adults, veterans, and adaptive sports superstars from around the country. Their children's programs reach youth of all ages with varying types of disabilities.

Founder and Chief Executive, Tom Iselin, created the Higher Ground program in 2005 to meet the growing need for quality rehabilitative programming for wounded veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. This program is the top pick of many military hospitals and veteran service organizations around the country who look for quality programs to help restore and rehabilitate the men and women who have been severely wounded while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The program offers four winter snowsports camps, one watersports camp, and two fly-fishing camps to more than 80 warriors and their significant others each year and specializes in traumatic brain injuries, blindness, visual impairment, PTSD, spinal cord, amputations and severe burns.

Fish out of Water film documentary explores the powerful impact the Higher Ground program has on six veterans in this emotional film about change, healing and rehabilitation. More than 600,000 U.S. soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from traumatic brain injuries, including psychological ailments such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression where coping in everyday life becomes the unanticipated battle zone unaddressed in initial training. Higher Ground aims to ensure that veterans have the self-confidence and skills necessary to thrive once they do return to their everyday lives by hosting nature trips where veterans learn the competitive yet meditative sport of fly fishing and find camaraderie and understanding from fellow soldiers.

Charles Annenberg Weingarten is a filmmaker, philanthropist, and storyteller. Charles is dedicated to improving the quality of life in developing nations through emerging communication technologies, preserving the environment, improving education, and embracing spirituality to foster a common bond among global citizens. Special thanks to Annenberg Foundation / Explore for their partnership in this series.


Join us December 2, for the screening of The River Ward and Fish Out of Water, hosted by the Compathos Film with Social Impact Producer & Director Series at the Hub in San Francisco. The Hub is the nexus point of entrepreneurship, funding, and mission. It is a place where non profit and for profit social change ideas build and scale into viable enterprises that address the complex problems we face, from poverty to climate change, for people and planet. Change agents find the support they need at the Hub to reach their goals faster, surrounded by a community that makes everyone smarter and more effective -- the Hub is where change goes to work.
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