TORONTO, Sept. 18, 2013 /CNW/ - On Wednesday October 16 at 9 pm, TVO presents the world premiere of the one-hour documentary, GrandParenting. Commissioned by TVO and directed by Canadian filmmaker Karen Shopsowitz, the film takes an intimate look at the lives of grandparents who become the primary caregivers of their grandchildren. GrandParenting will be available for streaming at docstudio.tvo.org the day after its broadcast premiere.
Across Ontario and throughout Canada, thousands of children are being raised full time by their grandparents. According to CanGrands, a national support organization for kinship families, approximately 62,500 children are being raised by kin (grandparents or other extended family members) in Canada. GrandParenting goes inside the homes and hearts of Ontario grandparents, shedding light on the hard realities they face in their unexpected return to parenting. From the stress of dwindling nest eggs, physical and emotional upheaval to derailed retirement dreams, the struggles for grandparents are a constant and the support for themselves and their grandchildren - many of whom have special needs - is often lacking.
"The film challenges what we think about family, and how we define these relationships," says director Karen Shopsowitz. "Not many people know about kinship families, and I was really interested in exploring more about what life is truly like for both grandparents and grandchildren. In making the film, I also wanted to encourage a respect for the difficult choices and huge sacrifices these grandparents have made, putting their own lives, hopes and dreams aside for the sake of family."
One such grandparent is Betty Cornelius, whose own life plans and financial situation changed after the birth of her granddaughter, Asheleigh, in 1993. She soon found herself seeking custody of Asheleigh who was being neglected and abused. Betty hasn't seen her son, Asheleigh's father, in 12 years. To deal with her own stress and isolation, she founded CanGrands, an online support group that has expanded to a non-profit with 25 chapters across the country.
Peter and Elaine are raising two grandsons by their son Joe, who has fathered at least 19 other children. The film follows the family over three years as Peter and Elaine nurture 11-year-old grandson Larry - who has autism and suffers from the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome - from home-schooled child to 14-year-old high school student. The film also chronicles the various steps Peter and Elaine go through to place Larry's baby half-brother, Joseph, in their care. Their love and devotion for their grandchildren comes at a price: in order to supplement his pension, Peter, a retired fire chief, goes back to work part-time training firefighters.
GrandParenting will be rebroadcast Wednesday October 16 at midnight, Sunday October 20 at 11 pm, and Tuesday October 22 at 9 pm.
TVO champions documentaries on air and through Doc Studio, an online showcase for documentary filmmakers and their work and a learning community supporting point-of-view filmmaking. A leader in Canadian point-of-view documentaries, TVO devotes more than half of its primetime schedule to documentaries.
TVO is Ontario's public educational media organization and a trusted source of interactive educational content that informs, inspires and stimulates curiosity and thought. TVO's vision is to empower people to be engaged citizens of Ontario through educational media. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario and is a registered charity supported by sponsors and thousands of donors. For more information, visit tvo.org.
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