The smiling faces of Mark Utter and Champlain Lanes Owner, Mike Longe.

I am in here. Bowl-A-Thon, March 10

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Thursday March 07, 2013

Vision. Strength. Access  (VSA) Vermont is benefiting from the support of Big Picture South Burlington student, Justin Lambert, as it approaches the premier of its own “big picture” film, Mark Utter’s I am in Here, on March 16 at the Main Street Landing Center for the Performing Arts in Burlington.

Big Picture South Burlington (BPSB) is a school within a school for students who are looking for more meaning in their high school education.  They work with faculty to design their own individualized curriculum based on their passions, skills, and goals.  Justin learned about VSA Vermont when Emily Anderson, VSA Vermont’s Director of Creative Performance and Cultural Access, taught a hands-on intensive during BPSP’s Explore Week in January.

Learning at BPSB often takes place through projects and internships. Justin wanted to help with VSA’s “Can Do Arts” exhibits as they travel around the state.  This interest led to an internship at VSA in which Justin spends two school days a week in the rich, creative, real-life classroom of VSA where he is contributing to a range of projects including Mark Utter’s poignant and witty film, I am in Here.  Justin’s technological and networking skills are an asset to the overall project goals.  Big Picture Program Coordinator said “Justin has inspired many students to serve others with his passion for giving and persistence to make big projects happen.”

Everyone has a story whether they are telling it or not. Some people are unable to verbally communicate their thoughts. This was Mark Utter’s experience for most of his life until he was introduced to a form of alternative communication called “Supported Typing”. Using this method, Mark not only wrote the screenplay for I am in Here, but he also communicates with audiences—like BPSB students during their Explore Week intensive.  Through more than his words, Mark’s story and spirit have brought widespread support for his movie project from diverse members of the community.

Although Emily Anderson and Mark Utter have successfully raised $33,000 through grass root efforts an additional $25,000 is needed to ensure completion of the film and a successful screening tour.  A bowl-a-thon will be held on March 10th at Champlain Lanes to increase awareness and raise additional funds.  Planners are now emphasizing the ‘fun” in fundraising and have received donations from many local businesses to serve as prizes for bowlers.   Justin is not only helping to organize the event, he is spreading the word at his school and inviting other students to become volunteers or bowlers.

Registering to bowl in The I am in Here Bowl-a-thon is an easy way to support this project and have a good time doing it.  You don’t need to be a good bowler—there are many other reasons to register.  Great prizes add to the celebratory tone of the event including an iPad for the individual who raises the most money.  My Daddy’s Caddy, a one-of-a-kind classic luxury car service providing fun and stylish transport for any occasion, has generously donated a grand prize.  The team of four that raises the most money will take an excursion in My Daddy’s Caddy to a sweet destination!

I am in Here is part of Mark’s unfolding story, and you can be a part of it too. Once registered, bowlers can win anything from a stay at the Green Mountain Inn to a serenade from Robert Resnik, Lake Monsters tickets, gift cards for Healthy Living, City Market and the University mall, Where clothing, Shelburne Farms treats, and much, much more.  Each of these businesses shares in Mark’s message of embracing our diverse ways of being human.  Exposure to the many facets of this project provides an opportunity for students, like Justin, to learn from experience as well as from books.

Mark’s unique movie project is part of VSA Vermont’s rich history of making the arts accessible to Vermonters of all abilities.  Founded in 1986, VSA Vermont is a member of the international network of VSA, an affiliate of The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Register to bowl or make a financial contribution to the event by visiting VSA Vermont’s website at

To learn more about the I am in Here bowl-a-thon or to host a screening of the film, contact Emily Anderson at (802) 655-4606.

Big Picture, a school where students get to design their education around their interests and internships, is now accepting applications for the 2013-2014 school year. To learn more about our school, visit our website at or contact Jason Cushner at, (802) 861-3906.