Shalom Park Freedom School Presents Underwater Dreams at its Annual Movie Fundraiser

Published Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Join the Shalom Park Freedom School (SPFS) for a screening of Underwater Dreams – a documentary by award-winning filmmaker Mary Mazzio and narrated by actor Michael Peńa – on Thursday, May 4, from 7 to 9 PM, at the Sam Lerner Center for Cultural Arts. The film chronicles the inspirational story of four teenage boys, sons of undocumented Mexican immigrants, who entered a sophisticated underwater robotics competition, going up against the likes of engineering powerhouse MIT – and winning.

“The stories in this film are incredibly timely and speak to the mission of the Shalom Park Freedom School – that all children, no matter their background, deserve opportunities to reach their potential and experiences that ignite their passion for learning,” says SPFS Co-chair Lisa Garfinkle.

SPFS serves 80 economically disadvantaged children every summer in our community, working to close the literacy achievement gap with a six-week literacy and character-building summer program. The scholars are selected from Huntingtowne Farms Elementary and Sterling Elementary, the two schools in faith-based partnerships with Temple Israel and Temple Beth El. This is the seventh summer for Shalom Park Freedom School, which was the first Jewish-sponsored Freedom School in the nation.

The story of Underwater Dreams begins when two energetic high school science teachers, on a whim, decide to enter their high school, a Title I school where most of the students live in poverty, into the underwater robotics competition. It follows the boys’ challenges along the way and the creative solutions they come up with to compete against MIT and other engineering schools.

The SPFS annual movie event is the school’s biggest fundraiser. Tickets are $10 and will be on sale at the JCC front desk in early April. For more information on SPFS, visit

Other Ways to Support SPFS This Spring: Donate Swimsuits, Towels & Books, Volunteer!

Scholars at SPFS enjoy swimming lessons twice a week. To help with this, SPFS is collecting new swimsuits and towels for the scholars from April 3-May 5. Sizes will be posted outside the LJCC Childcare room along with a sign-up sheet. Swimsuits can be turned into the LJCC Customer Service Desk.

SPFS is also asking for donations of gently used children’s books, especially chapter books. Captain Underpants and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series are the most popular among the scholars. Books may be dropped off at the Levine-Sklut Judaic Library or in the library’s dropbox this spring.

Shalom Park Freedom School will run from June 19 through July 27 this summer. It takes hundreds of volunteers to make it a success. There are volunteer opportunities for people of all ages, ranging from one-on-one involvement with the scholars to shopping for or donating needed supplies. To learn more, visit

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