The DDPC, in partnership with the New York State Digital and Media Services Center, has produced a documentary highlighting the importance of lessons learned, positive change that resulted, and the legacy of Willowbrook. The Path Forward: Remembering Willowbrook is a celebration of inclusion in all aspects of community life.
Disclaimer: Some footage used in the video contains images that may be disturbing for some viewers. The piece also uses older video clips that include outdated language referring to people with developmental disabilities; these clips are used solely for historical context.
In 1972, Geraldo Rivera produced an exposé on the Willowbrook State School in Staten Island, shocking the nation and forever changing the treatment of people with disabilities in the state and across the country. The investigation also produced a lifelong bond between he and Bernard Carabello, a former Willowbrook resident who went on to become the founder of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York State (SANYS).
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of this landmark moment, the DDPC is highlighting the importance of the lessons learned, the positive change that resulted, and how to move forward from the legacy of Willowbrook.
"It is important we never forget the atrocities that happened at Willowbrook so we can make sure this horrible chapter of history is never repeated." - Vicky Hiffa, DDPC Acting Executive Director
Last year, the DDPC was able to attend the opening of The Willowbrook Mile by The City College of Staten Island. The college has worked to make the history of Willowbrook into an accessible trail open for the public to walk the campus and immerse themselves in the history. Learn more about The Willowbrook Mile here.
On March 23rd 2023, the DDPC hosted a debut screening of the documentary The Path Forward: Remembering Willowbrook. The screening was followed by a panel discussion with key gamechangers who lived the Willowbrook story.
- Bernard Carabello, Founder of the Self-Advocacy Association of New York (SANYS); former Willowbrook resident
- Dr. Michael Wilkins, Former Willowbrook Physician and Whistle-blower
- Dr. Catherine Lavender, Co-Chair of the Willowbrook Legacy Committee
- Diane Buglioli, Former Willowbrook Staff; Co-founder of A Very Special Place
- Dr Debra Weissbach, Sister of a former Willowbrook resident; Pediatrician
- Jose Rivera, Brother of a former Willowbrook resident; Community Advocate
- Willie Mae Goodman, Parent of former Willowbrook resident; founder of the Gouverneur Parents Association
In the News
It was an extraordinarily compelling story back then. It remains a compelling story. Thank you….for putting together a documentary that makes us think, makes us feel, and hopefully puts us on a path in the right direction.”
- Jack Ford, Metro Focus host, and former Today Show host, Good Morning America and 20/20 correspondent.
Watch Now The Path Forward: Willowbrook in Conversation
A conversation with Kerri E. Neifeld, Commissioner of the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD), the state’s lead agency in providing services and supports to the IDD community.
Video: A Conversation with Bernard Carabello and Geraldo Rivera