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WrestleMania WarmUp at Lifestyles

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The build up is peeking. The card is set. Or is it? What will John Cena and the Undertaker do?

At Lifestyles, Sal DiBenedetto interviewed our own contenders — The Destroyer (Kevin Distefano), Joey Whispers (Joe Padalino), The Darkness (Aaon Bialer), Joey The Wrath (Schiavone). Dangerous Alan Russo, Anthony ‘The Animal’ Arragona, Thomas ‘The Tiger’ Lema. Cena and the DeadMan got nothing on us. Get ready for WrestleMania 34.


‘Summer in the Forest,’ a film about work of Jean Vanier, to debut in New York

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Editor’s note: Lifestyles Media Department had the opportunity to screen “Summer in the Forest,” a film that tells the story of how Jean Vanier’s life was changed when he began living and working with people with intellectual disabilities. Vanier founded L’Arche, an international network of communities supporting people with developmental disabilities.

The film has its New York debut on Friday March 23 at Village East Cinema.

Also Max Toone, here to promote the film, stopped in for a quick interview videoed with members of the Media Department. Check out that video, the trailer of the film, and the reviews and reflections that the film sparked in participants at Lifestyles.

“ ‘Summer in the Forest’ is a movie about people with disabilities. They become independent,” says Joseph Padalino. “They shave. They go out and have a good time. I give it a 10. It is a very emotional movie. The ending will make anybody emotional.”

“This movie is about people’s lives and how life changed for people with disabilities.,” adds Dolores Palermo. “For everybody it will teach you something about life and the goodness of health.”

“Hopefully, this movie will bring out awareness in people who don’t have disabilities,” observes Joseph Schiavone.

Much of the film takes place in a village outside of Paris. “It takes place in a forest. It is beautiful. You can see the trees and hear the birds,” says Dolores Palermo.

“The music of the introduction and the setting wrapped me up in a spiral of emotions,” said Joseph Schiavone.

Sal DiBenedetto: In those days [in the 1960s] people like us were institutionalized. They didn’t want people like us in the community. Now we go out in the community and take on challenges.

Anthony DiFato: “It is slow paced. You see a man shave, going to the grocery store, picking up the mail.

Kevin DiStefano: I like the guy on the tractor who was cutting the grass.

Andrew Moszenberg: In ways, he (Michel) is like us. We are the same on the inside, our feelings.

Sal DiBenedetto: I liked the part when they walked into town, trying on clothing. It showed what it is like in the community, doing normal everyday stuff.

(Story continues after “Summer in the Forest” Trailer.)

Frank Faretra: “It’s funny.  They treat him well in the group home, but outside they bullied him.”  (Referring to Hilmi, a Palestinian boy in the second half.)

Aaron Bialer: The thinking was they should be locked up. Little did they know it’s not true. People do care about them.

Dolores Palermo: For people with disabilities, it helps build self-esteem. You can prove yourself to yourself by doing everyday activities such as taking a shower. I struggle with getting dressed, but I can do it if I try.

Joseph Padalino: The movie is funny.  It reminds me of “My Left Foot.” It shows me how people get through disability.  Part of the movie makes me sad. They take care of one another.

Sam Stone: “An amazing movie.  It’s great that they get to work together and work things out.”

Written with Kathryn Carse and Eddy Gregory

Darius McCollum Needs Help, Not Injustice

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Commentary written collaboratively by Aread Diaz, Anthony DiFato, Kareem Ellison, Frank Faretra, Matthew Ianelli, Joseph Jones, Michael Smith, with Edward Gregory.

Darius McCollum, a convicted train thief with Asperger’s Syndrome, will be getting mental help, instead of jail.  Will it be the kind of help he needs; will he be locked in an asylum; or will he be treated and released back into society?  What kind of help he gets, the courts will decide.  Life-Wire News Service has some opinions on the subject.  Here’s what we think:IMG_0626

Darius McCollum needs justice, not injustice from the justice department.  In fact, they put him in jail for a mental disorder that they know nothing about. How can you lock someone in an institution when he needs help? Being in a psych ward is like being in Hell, and that’s not fun.  Most people don’t or won’t understand his love for the transit system and calling him a thief.  Sometimes it’s hard to understand his mental disability. –Joseph Jones.

If he has a disorder, they should allow him to go to the hospital for his disorder.  They should help people when they have a disorder, not put them in jail. -Kareem Ellison

He needs help because he stole trains. Be good to yourself and others.  Do not send Darius to jail; he needs psychological help.  –Frank Faretra.

He’s a good bus driver and I seen lots of buses and I’ve seen a lot of people drive them.  Sometimes I see people drive the trains.  He needs a job, a career and mental help. –Michael Smith.

He should go to the hospital because he steals buses and trains, so he can get better.  –Matthew Ianelli.

People spend a lot of time talking about him as a notorious criminal.  But all he does with these vehicles is what the normal bus drivers do; but people say he does it better.  –Anthony DiFato.

He’s not that bad at all.  He needs help. If he doesn’t get his help, he could spend the rest of his life in jail or an asylum.  -Aread Diaz

We encourage the judge and the justice system to do what’s right for Darius McCollum.

Find out more at Free Darius Now Online.

Here is our recent review of the documentary: Off the Rails: Story of a One-Track Mind.

Coney Island Day Trip

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On a hot day toward the end of August, a group and their staff decided to head off to one of the famous summer destinations in New York.

Coney Island.   FullSizeRender_3

“I loved it,” said Janet D. “I want to do it again.”

She and Kamila B came to the Media Department to be interviewed about the trip that also included Becky C and Chris K along with staff Stephanie DiStefano and Patricia Salemmo.

And if Brooklyn’s world famous beach side amusement park wasn’t enough,  the anniversary of its equally world famous roller coaster, The Cyclone, was being celebrated.

“It sounded like a train,” said Janet.

“Because it’s made out of wood,” added Kamila.

They saw a lot of excited families and tourists, some speaking foreign languages, all lining up for a ride.

No they didn’t take a ride, this excursion was exploratory only – they took in the rides, the boardwalk, the beach scene and they stumbled upon a  cool art exhibit.


And of course, they couldn’t go to Coney Island without a stop at Nathan’s Famous. They didn’t sample the famous hot dogs or frogs legs, but they did enjoy chicken sandwiches and burgers.

The other rides that caught there eye were the iconic Parachute Jump, now defunct and a landmark,  and the Wonder Wheel.

“The Wonder Wheel is older than the Cyclone,” said Michael Mazzone, Media Department staff.

“It’s 99 years old,” said Andrew M after a quick Google search.

In addition to being a ferris wheel, some cars “slide out” over the water, said Kamila.

“What would you like to ride on a future trip?” asked Joseph Jones.

“I don’t like rides,” said Kamila, shaking her head. But she liked the look of the Parachute Jump.

“The teacup is too fast for me. It makes me dizzy,” said Janet. “I like the bumper cars.”


One unexpected highlight was discovering Coney Art Walls, an exciting outdoor exhibit of street art.

“You could spend all day there,” said Stephanie of the murals painted on cement walls like handball courts.

“How did you get there? Did you take the D train,” asked Andrew Moszenberg.

“We took the van over the Verrazano,” replied Janet.

“When we got there around 10, it was quiet, but by the time we left, the boardwalk and beach were packed,” said Stephanie.

Michael Cilmi, Anthony DiConstanzo, Anthony DiFato, Riki Garcia, Joseph Jones, Andrew Moszenberg, Greg Perosi and Eric Schwacke contributed to this story with Kathryn Carse.