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Documentary looks at program that reaches out to most troubled students

Kelsey Carroll meets with a guidance counselor. Photo by Dan Habib.

Kelsey Carroll meets with a guidance counselor. Photo by Dan Habib.

Photojournalist Dan Habib made the 2008 documentary “Including Samuel” to record his family’s struggle to educate their son, who lives with cerebral palsy.

Now Habib has picked up his film camera again to do a documentary on another issue in education – the push to educate thousands of children who are trying to cope with depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns.

“Who Cares About Kelsey?” will begin airing on public broadcasting stations on September 28 and will look at a program aimed at reaching such children.

“I started doing research and found these children have awful outcomes,” said Habib, who is filmmaker in residence at the University of New Hampshire Institute on Disability.

“More than 50 percent drop out of school and they are twice as likely as kids with other disabilities to be homeless, incarcerated or on drugs,” he said.

“Who Cares About Kelsey?”  follows New Hampshire high school student Kelsey Carroll, who lives with homelessness, sexual abuse, self-mutilation, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Carroll, who came from a home where her parents were divorced and her mother was abusing drugs, was in danger of dropping out.

“Who Cares About Kelsey?” will air on Public TV stations around the nation beginning Saturday September 28. Here is a list of stations and airtimes. Social workers and National Association of Social Workers chapters can also apply for a free copy of the DVD to do screenings in their area. For more information contact NASW Senior Communications and Public Relations Specialist Greg Wright at

Photojournalist and filmmaker Dan Habib.

Photojournalist and filmmaker Dan Habib.

However Somerset High School implemented a Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) program to reach out to troubled students such as Kelsey, who often ended up isolated in special education classrooms or expelled under the school’s zero tolerance policy toward misbehavior.

As part of PBIS the school began a student-directed life planning process called RENEW, or Rehabilitation for Empowerment, Natural Supports, Education and Work. A team of adults helped Kelsey face the issues that were stifling her educational abilities and plan for a brighter future.”Who Cares About Kelsey?” follows the process — by the end of the film she is planning going to college and a career.

Habib said it is not surprisingly social workers are intimately involved in the program at Somerset High and are featured in his documentary. Social worker JoAnne Malloy, MSW, PhD, actually started the RENEW program and another social worker, Jonathon Drake, works directly with Kelsey.

“The film is really about a student who was on a trajectory to drop out, get involved in drugs, or get pregnant and/or end up in jail and how the program turned the trajectory around,” Habib said.

For more information on how social workers help young people overcome life’s hurdles visit the National Association of Social Workers’ “Help Starts Here” Kids and Families website.


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