A drawing of a former Ladd resident standing outside an old Ladd building with text above the artwork that says: Best Judgment: Ladd School Lessons.

Best Judgment: Ladd School Lessons

"A Society is best judged by the manner in which it treats its most vulnerable members..."

~multiple attributes, author unknown

Photo collaage of members of the Advocates in Action film production team working on our film. Tesxt reads "Best Judgment: Ladd School Lessons" as the title and has this quote below it: "A society is best judged by the manner in which is treats its most vulnerable members..."

Best Judgment: Ladd School Lessons, is a feature documentary film, being produced by Advocates in Action Rhode Island, in association Harken Media and the Down Syndrome Society of Rhode Island. This film brings a unique perspective, as it examines the history of the Joseph H. Ladd Center through the eyes of its former residents.

This will be more than just a history lesson. Individuals who have a developmental disability, including former residents of the Ladd Center, are collaborating with veteran media professionals, musicians, historians and others for the film. Best Judgment will bring a unique perspective, as it examines the history of the Joseph H. Ladd Center through the eyes of its former residents. We will use the history of the Ladd Center as a starting point as we examine and consider past and present attitudes towards people who have a developmental disability.

February 2016 Production Update!

As many of you know, our work on Best Judgment: Ladd School Lessons would not be possible without the support of our many friends and sponsors. Thank you once again for your generous support!

For the past several years, we have been working to create a film that examines and challenges past and present attitudes, as well as behaviors, toward people who have developmental disabilities. Film production has been somewhat demanding and often frustrating, yet it has also been a powerful experience that has enriched and educated each member of our production team.

As a part of our work together, we have conducted interviews with former Ladd Center residents, family members, administrators, support staff, public officials, and others with knowledge of Ladd history. We've filmed at the former Ladd Center Campus and conducted archival research at the Ladd Center's records room. Working with the Everett Theatre Improv Troupe, we dramatized topics connected to the Ladd saga. Our songwriting team has produced music and lyrics that serve as a commentary for the Ladd story. Throughout this production, we've also documented our filmmaking process- from the initial equipment training workshops through crew discussions and disagreements relating to the structure and content of the film.

Though we still have more filming to do, we now feel that we will be able to complete Best Judgment: Ladd School Lessons within the next eight months. We realize that our progress may seem relatively slow compared to other film productions and truly appreciate your patience! One of the unique and exciting aspects about Best Judgment is our multi-talented and diverse production team, which includes professional filmmakers and musicians working together with former Ladd residents, and those who might live there today if the institution were still open. We have taught each other so many things during our time together, and have learned to set a pace which assures that each member of our production team is able to understand and contribute to the direction of the film.

We believe the delay in our production schedule is one of the main reasons why Best Judgment will be an amazing, collaborative, and inclusive documentary production. This will be a powerful film that helps to change negative attitudes and correct the misinformation that exists about people who have a disability label.

Once again, we thank you for your patience and appreciate your support! If all goes according to schedule, we plan to announce a premiere date this coming spring. We’ll share that information here at www.LaddFilm.com so please stay tuned and visit us again soon!

In the meantime, we hope you’ll enjoy the following short sequence from the film, which can also be found at the following link: https://vimeo.com/138410981

Most Sincerely Yours!
The Best Judgment Production Crew



WhoBelongs from Advocates in Action RI on Vimeo.


One of the goals of our film will be to explore the history of the Joseph H. Ladd Center, along with the larger story of how people with disabilities have been treated over time. We believe it's important to remember the past, even if some of the memories are less than pleasant, so that we don't repeat them.

The Museum of disABILITY History VIRTUAL MUSEUM
is excellent resource that provides an overview of disABILITY history. This site was created by People, Inc of New York.
CLICK HERE to visit the museum.

Click here to read "Days of Darkness, Days of Hope". This 1988 publication by the RI Historical Society shares some of history about Ladd, along with personal stories from former residents and their families.

Former resident Joey Sabo share his Butterfly Story from his days at Ladd School.


Former resident Anna Russell talks about her friendship with fellow former resident, Jimmy Isom.


Film Co-Director Jim Wolpaw is featured in the

Film Crew member and RI Musician Mark Cutler talks about his work on Best Judgment in the Providence Journal

Click HERE to see our interview on Channel 10 News on January 24th, 2014

Click HERE to read about our project in the Providence Journal on Feb 7, 2014

Click here to read our February 2014 write up in the New England Film on-line Magazine

Click here to read a 2013 article about ouf progress in the Providence Phoenix

Click here to visit our Facebook Page


This is just the beginning of our journey to capture the complex legacy of the Joseph H. Ladd Center!

Send us an email if have any questions or comments about our work in progress. If you or someone you know is a former Ladd resident, or has a connection with the instituion, we'd also love to hear from you.

Click on the button to send us an email:

email us at: info@laddfilm.com

Please include some brief information about your connection to Ladd School, along with your full name, email address and a phone number where we can reach you. We will be in touch!

Follow us on Twitter: Tweets by @BestJudgment


(c) 2013, Advocates in Action Rhode Island, Inc.

This page was upated on February 2, 2016