We had the tremendous honor in producing a video and various photos for The Owen Foundation in Mexico City., which has developed a program of “Rehabilitation without Pain” using assistance dogs in physical rehabilitation for children and young people with severe multiple disabilities (SMD).

First approaching this project, I remembered a quote from photographer Diane Arbus in the preface of the book Diane Arbus: An Aperture Monograph:

Most people go through life dreading they’ll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They’ve already passed their test in life. They’re aristocrats.

Reading Diane’s text, it became clear that presenting those children on the point of view of pity was not the correct way to help them. Witnessing the profound and delicate interaction in between the dogs and the children was an enlightening experience, going from pity to admiration. In a way, as much as those children needs our help, we need them so we can learn again to value the smallest moment, the fact we can walk, interact and speak.

Direction: Jean Bérard
Photography: Jean Bérard
Producer: Mary Palma
First assistant: Eduardo Solis
Second assistant: Ana Karen Garcia Fajardo
Edition: Armond Cohen
Writing: Hernan Bravo Varela / Teresa Zaga Cohen
Translation: Blair McDougall
Music: “Delicate” by Damien Rice, licensed courtesy of Warner Music UK LTD

Tuvimos el tremendo honor de producir un video y varias fotos para la Fundación Owen en la Ciudad de México, que desarrolló un programa de “rehabilitación sin dolor” utilizando perros de asistencia en rehabilitación física para niños y jóvenes con discapacidades múltiples severas (DSM).

Al acercarme a este proyecto, recordé una cita de la fotógrafa Diane Arbus en el prefacio del libro Diane Arbus: Una Monografía de Apertura:

“La mayoría de las personas pasan por la vida temiendo tener una experiencia traumática. Los “anormales” nacieron con su trauma. Ya pasaron la prueba en la vida. Son aristócratas (nobles)”.

Al leer el texto de Diane, quedó claro que presentar a esos niños en el punto de vista de la pena no era la forma correcta de ayudarlos. Ser testigo de la interacción profunda y delicada entre los perros y los niños fue una experiencia inspiradora, que pasó de la pena a la admiración. En cierto modo, por mucho que esos niños necesiten nuestra ayuda, los necesitamos para que podamos aprender nuevamente a valorar el momento más pequeño, el hecho de que podemos caminar, interactuar y hablar.

Dirección: Jean Bérard
Fotografía: Jean Bérard
Productor: Mary Palma
Primer asistente: Eduardo Solis

Segundo asistente: Ana Karen Garcia Fajardo
Edición: Armond Cohen
Escritor: Hernan Bravo Varela / Teresa Zaga Cohen
Traductor: Blair McDougall
Música: “Delicate” por Damien Rice, Licencia cortesía de Warner Music UK LTD


Also part of the project was photographing everyday situations at the Owen Foundation.

In the year 2010, people with disabilities amounted to 5,739,270, 5.1% of the total population of our country [Mexico]. People with severe multiple disabilities represent 9% of the disabled population, more than 500,000 are completely physically and emotionally dependent.
Some of these children and young people receive attention from institutions of private assistance with traditional rehabilitation methods that are invasive and painful for them, their parents and profesionals helping them. (www.owen.care)

This project has been made inside a foundation that has developed a program of “Rehabilitation without Pain” using assistance dogs. The medical program in physical rehabilitation for children and young people with severe multiple disabilities (SMD) launched by the Owen Foundation is the context of these photographs.

The images presented here, do not seek to make the promotion of the Foundation, at least, not completely, but to unveil and to experience physical, human and animal emotional relations occurring there.

These sometimes tremendously intense relationships are the result of the coexistence in between handicapped children, their assistance dogs and the people who supports and care for them every day.

After interacting with each of the individuals, it is impossible to not feel touched by the way in which these children make contact with their immediate world and those who are close to them. Small and almost imperceptible signs of gratitude, joy, at times frustration and pain, pushes us to reasses the most basic apreciation of our lives.

No less important is the role that Owen, an assistance dog, has represented for the rehabilitation of the children. He has given them the oportunity to experience another type of feelings and desires to move and interact. It has become another member of the family that helps them every day to adapt to this difficult world that they had arrived into.

The photographs that make up the project, still in process, intends to make something not often visible or that we do not want to see, by exploring on delicateness, nobility and generosity as an awakening to life.

Jorge Edgar Hernández, Curator.

Thank you so much to Rodolfo Morin for the new identity design and Armond Cohen for the video edition.
Special thanks to Margara Bravo, founder of the Owen Foundation and … Owen for changing the life of so many children and their families.

Please make a difference and donate at owen.care.