Each Community Connections post spotlights the role of community members and leaders. Our goal with these posts is to include a variety of voices that may inspire others to shape their role as a rising self-advocate.

Rachel Healy and Liza Hoos are co-owners of Open Eye Creative, a multimedia production firm in Durham, N.C. that is helping to build our video curriculum for self-advocacy. We asked them to share their thoughts about the project.  

SAY IT: What makes this project unique for you?
Open Eye: We specialize in creating video for mission-driven businesses and organizations, so SAY IT Solutions definitely fits the bill in terms of the type of client we love working with. What’s unique about this project is its focus. We usually make marketing videos that are about an organization, but for this project, we’re actually going beyond that to help Karen build a part of her curriculum. It’s satisfying and fun to be involved in something that’s fundamental to our client’s mission.

On a personal level, we’ve learned a lot while producing these videos. Many of the skills Karen teaches in this course are useful for anyone, not just those recovering from substance use disorders and mental illness. Sitting in on her training as we filmed the course was enlightening—we learned about the challenges faced by people in recovery as well as self-advocacy skills and strategies we can apply in our own lives.

SAY IT: What do you like most about working on this project / with Karen?
Open Eye: We really love working with clients like Karen because doing so helps us fulfill our mission—to create videos that strengthen and propel organizations that are changing the world.  Karen and the SAY IT program are certainly changing the world for the better. We are really excited to be helping Karen expand her reach and share her knowledge with a broader audience.

Also, Karen is simply a pleasure to work with! Her passion for helping those who are in recovery is clear, and because she is open about her own recovery experience, she is able to establish a trusting relationship with her trainees.

SAY IT: What have you learned about self-advocacy while working on this project?
Open Eye: Self-advocacy is more than just communication. In fact, sometimes the most difficult part of self-advocacy is truly knowing yourself. Taking time the time to identify your emotions, understand their causes, and determine exactly what you need is an essential part of the self-advocacy process.

SAY IT: What have you learned about recovery from substance use and mental illness while working on this project?
Open Eye: We learned about the numerous challenges that people in recovery face, particularly those relating to employment. People who’ve had substance use disorders are stigmatized, and getting hired when you have conspicuous gaps in your resume or a criminal record can be extremely difficult. It’s been eye-opening to learn about this from a job applicant’s perspective: How do you handle your criminal record when applying for a job? How much should you disclose to your boss, and when? It’s also been interesting to learn how legislation can prevent employment discrimination against people with criminal records.

SAY IT: What challenges has this project presented?
Open Eye: In this project, we turned one of Karen’s live trainings into an online course, so we had one chance to get the production right! The ultimate goal is to create videos that people will watch, learn from, and apply to their lives, so we knew we wanted to use several angles to help keep the viewers’ attention focused on the material. We had multiple cameras capturing Karen and her trainees from a variety of angles as well as several lights and microphones (high-quality audio is just as important as good video). Also, we had to make sure that we weren’t being too much of a distraction as we moved around the room and operated all of the equipment. It was a fun challenge, and we’re happy how it all turned out!


Thank you to Rachel and Liza for sharing their thoughts with us. We’re thrilled to begin helping those in recovery find their self-advocacy voices.