The 3rd Wheel
| 7 min
Short 360-degree documentary
“Everyone should have access to physical education, whether they’re disabled or not.” This sums up Phys. Ed. instructor Rhéal Hébert’s teaching philosophy and sense of commitment to his work. When sisters Alyssa and Renelle Belliveau, both of whom have muscular dystrophy, come to class in wheelchairs, Hébert realizes that a major challenge awaits him. To give them a greater degree of autonomy, he acquires multisport wheelchairs for them to use. This becomes the seed for the idea of setting up an adapted-basketball program outside the classroom. The gym at Grande-Digue High School in southern New Brunswick is about to set an outstanding example of social inclusion.
In a surprising twist, students who don’t have disabilities begin to show an interest in parasports. They ask for wheelchairs so that they can not only train with their friends but also experience the joy of discovering a new sport. The majority adapts to the minority in this reverse-inclusion initiative; non-disabled students become the “third wheels,” so to speak, on the chairs of classmates who have reduced mobility, while the sisters become more empowered and attain a greater sense of belonging.
This short, 360-degree documentary places the viewer at the very heart of a miracle that takes place in a gym and spreads to an entire community. Along the way, the film reveals one of the keys to creating a more inclusive society: the ability to see things from someone else’s perspective.
A gym teacher aspires to make sports accessible to two sisters who have muscular dystrophy. In a surprising twist, students without disabilities soon ask for wheelchairs to play basketball with them. What emerges is a movement of reverse inclusion that expands to an entire community, where the majority adapts to the minority.
A school gym becomes the site of an experiment in reverse inclusion when non-disabled students ask for wheelchairs so that they can play basketball with their classmates, two sisters who have muscular dystrophy.
“Everyone should have access to physical education, whether they’re disabled or not.” This sums up Phys. Ed. instructor Rhéal Hébert’s teaching philosophy and sense of commitment to his work. When sisters Alyssa and Renelle Belliveau, both of whom have muscular dystrophy, come to class in wheelchairs, Hébert realizes that a major challenge awaits him. What the sisters don’t know is that they’ve just met someone who will completely change their lives and the lives of many other people in their community. The gym at Grande-Digue High School in southern New Brunswick is about to set an outstanding example of social inclusion.
When Hébert notices some friends pushing Alyssa’s and Renelle’s wheelchairs so that they can take part in class activities, he decides he’s going to do everything he can to ensure the sisters experience sports to the fullest. He provides them with multisport wheelchairs, allowing them to participate and giving them greater autonomy. That’s when the three of them come up with the idea of setting up an adapted-basketball program outside the classroom.
Then something remarkable happens. In a surprising twist, non-disabled students begin to show an interest in parasports. They ask for chairs so that they can not only train with their friends but also experience the joy of discovering a new sport. The majority adapts to the minority in this reverse-inclusion initiative: students choose to sit in wheelchairs in order to play basketball with classmates who have reduced mobility. Now on equal terms, they share a new perspective on both the hoop and the game.
Non-disabled students become the “third wheels,” so to speak, on the chairs of classmates who have reduced mobility, while the sisters become more empowered and attain a greater sense of belonging. The power of awareness and change soon extends beyond the classroom and spreads throughout the community. Hébert’s efforts lead to offshoots in the Shediac area, where more activities become accessible to people with reduced mobility. Little by little, groups of disabled and non-disabled people alike will see their skills improve and their self-confidence grow, all thanks to sports.
This short, 360-degree documentary places the viewer at the very heart of a miracle that takes place in a gym and spreads to an entire community. The film shines the spotlight on one passionate teacher’s initiative and invites us to experience the challenges faced by those who constantly struggle to feel integrated. Along the way, The Third Wheel reveals one of the keys to creating a more inclusive society: the ability to see things from someone else’s perspective.
André Roy holds two bachelor’s degrees from the Université de Moncton, in the fields of information-communication and dramatic arts. This theatre actor and comedian is one of the new faces of emerging filmmakers in Acadia. Two of his films were featured at the 29th edition of the FICFA festival: the fictional short Un dîner de Noël pas comme les autres and the documentary L’humour c’est secondaire. The latter was broadcast as a two-part series by the UNIS network during the winter of 2016. A Tremplin finalist in 2008, André won the 2016 edition with his documentary A Part of Me.
Producer Jac Gautreau is motivated by new artistic challenges and creative adventures. The breadth of Jac’s knowledge is unique: he knows how to talk technology with technicians, Stanislavski with actors, crescendo with musicians, management with managers, marketing with customers, and politics with politicians. Among his most recent creations are 12 years’ worth of East Coast Music Awards Gala shows (Gemini Award for best variety show in 2001 and 2003), as well as multimedia shows such as The Fantastic Violin, Tracady Story 1, 2 and 3D, and Page d’Amérique (more than 70,000 viewers). He was artistic director of the 5th World Acadian Congress in 2014 and in May 2015 he joined the NFB, where he produces documentary films, interactive works and virtual reality projects.
Producer / Executive Producer
Photo : ONF
Dominic Desjardins has worked as a producer, director and screenwriter since 1997. He was appointed Executive Producer of the NFB French Program’s Canadian Francophonie Studio in 2013. He made his mark in the francophone television and film industry with a number of productions, including the TFO television series Volt (2006-08), and directed two fiction features: Le divan du monde (Zazie Films Inc., 2009), a romantic road movie set in French-speaking Canada, winner of several awards, including best film from the Canadian Francophonie at the 2011 Rendez-vous du cinema québécois; and La Sacrée (Holy Brew, Balestra Productions Inc., 2011), winner of the public’s choice award at the Festival du film francophone de Hamilton.
In his capacity as Executive Producer, he has worked with emerging filmmakers on projects in the 2014 and 2015 Tremplin competition and with director Renée Blanchar on Les héritiers du club (A Place That Matters, 2015). He has also been the producer on three Tremplin projects (Femmes debout, Mes réseaux sociaux et moi, and la dernière clé), on Yves Étienne Massicotte’s documentary Les mots qui dansent (The Dance of Words, 2014) and on Roger Parent’s From Sherbrooke to Brooks, 2016.
Dominic Desjardins is very familiar with the artistic and community aspects of the Canadian Francophonie, having served as president of the Front des réalisateurs indépendants du Canada (FRIC) and as a board member of the Fédération culturelle canadienne-française. He graduated from the Conservatoire national supérieur d’art dramatique in Paris and was a participant in the Course destination monde (Radio-Canada, 1997-98).
A film by
With the participation of
Researched, written and directed by
Director of Photography
First Assistant Camera
360˚ Video Capture
Location Sound Recording
Key Rigging Grip
François Émond, Les Productions du Pilier
© 2017 National Film Board of Canada (SOCAN)
Spatial Audio Supervisor/Mixer
Sound Effects Editor
Foley Recording Mixer
Sound Edit and Mix Studio
Tattersall Sound and Picture
Footsteps Post-Production Sound
Graphics Design, Stitching, Visual Effects
Lynn and Marc Belliveau
All the staff of École Grand-Digue and Polyvalente Louis-J.-Robichaud
All Renelle and Alyssa’s friends for their participation in the basketball game
A production of The National Film Board of Canada
Canadian Francophonie Studio – Acadie
© 2017 National Film Board of Canada
About the NFB
The National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is one of the world’s leading digital content hubs, creating groundbreaking interactive documentaries and animation, mobile content, installations and participatory experiences. NFB interactive productions and digital platforms have won 100 awards, including 21 Webbys. To access this award-winning content and discover the work of NFB creators, visit NFB.ca, download its apps for mobile devices or visit NFB Pause.