COLLIER COUNTY, Fla -- A critically acclaimed director and cinematographer is taking on a Southwest Florida project for his next documentary.
Jon Fitzgerald is teaming up with Jill Wheeler and the Wellfit Institute in Naples. The project, "Pace to Peaks," will work to transform teen girls as they set off on a journey of a lifetime.
Fitzgerald is the Founder and CEO of CineCause, based in LA. The company uses social impact cinema to affect change in the community.
"Jill has Wellfit Institute and a curriculum she has developed for these kids to go through. My job is to try and help find a narrative, find a storyline to help create something that is entertaining while at the same time empowering," says Fitzgerald.
Over a six month period the girls will learn about health, wellness, adventure and empowerment. Fitzgerald will follow their journey through the entire six months, including the final challenge, a trek up Machu Picchu in Peru in May 2014.
"The idea of young women, in some cases at risk women, having an opportunity to go through curriculum with Jill and really grow and then be put to the test to go somewhere like Peru and have an opportunity to go to Machu Picchu and work with the community and meet with Peruvian girls, it's amazing opportunity," says Fitzgerald. "I was thrilled with the chance to be a part of it."
A carefully selected group of at risk girls will be asked to take on challenges that will be both difficult and new. They will be asked to exceed every expectation they ever had for themselves.
"We believe they are going to be the inspiration for communities all over the country and all over the world," says Wheeler. "The girls can inspire each other, regardless of socioeconomic background, class status, or even region."
The curriculum will include weekly group classes, fitness activities like Yoga and Zumba, and wellness practices that prepare the girls to embark on a week-long journey in Peru.
"Through art, Yoga, dance and challenge, knowing they can overcome hard things and difficult experiences and new experiences that they might not have known they can handle. That is going to set the foundation for future successes," says Wheeler.
The hope with the documentary is to educate the world and have a global impact with the message that women and girls are heroes and can change the world.
"I've always known about the power of film to activate and inspire change, so I've always been a documentary lover," says Wheeler, a board member of the Naples International Film Festival. "Seeing the process of these girls and getting to know these girls will inspire others to want to get involved in their communities and light the fire and hold the torch for programs like this in their community, and their community, and their community so, we all realize the power of girls to lead and inspire change," says Wheeler.
Wheeler says they are currently looking for 8-10 girls to go on the inaugural trip. Applicants have to be willing to share their story for the documentary and be able to travel outside the United States. For more information contact Jill Wheeler at (239) 595-3199.