Spotlight: BYkids

When did your organization launch and why?

BYkids’ first season on public television debuted in 2013 to use the personal stories of young people to inform, engage, and inspire action. Season Three of FILMS BYKIDS will broadcast nationally on PBS in early 2021 with films about resurgent Jewish life in Germany, life on a Native American reservation, being differently abled, and Bhutan’s experience with globalism.

What does your organization do? What are its main goals? Main projects?

We create understanding through storytelling.

BYkids produces documentary films by kids and partners with public television and educators to inspire conversations around global issues of human dignity and social justice. FILMS BYKIDS share the stories of kids who confront issues such as immigration, bullying, juvenile justice, climate change and child marriage. We reach kids, especially in this time of online learning, with teaching materials that promote empathy and understanding to make issues feel personal, relevant and actionable, rather than foreign.

Our partnerships help us reach almost 246 million viewers and students. Public television brings the series to 84 million households. PBS LearningMedia brings the films and educational material to 1.6 million teachers and their students. Discovery Education distributes our films and School Guides to 51 million students in middle and high school. Additionally, PenPal Schools distributes our films and curriculum including a module on media literacy in 150 countries student to student.

What makes your organization stand out? What would you say is the most unique thing about your organization?

Telling globally relevant stories through the eyes of kids around the world with the intention of teaching empathy and globalism.

What are recent projects or new resources that your organization would like to share with other NAMLE members?

What are the connections between the work of your organization and media literacy?

We are trying to replace colonial journalism with first-person storytelling. We want to give voice to the voiceless and in promoting direct storytelling, we are promoting media literacy.

Why is media literacy important to your organization?

Media literacy is at the core of our work since we are giving kids around the world the tools to tell their own stories and inspiring students to value their own voices.

We aim, especially through our School Guides, to expand students’ experience of each film from passive watching to active, deeply personalized learning. BYkids wants our films to be part of cross-cultural, project-based, collaborative learning that links cultures and countries in shared humanity as the students develop the competencies they need to become global citizens while mastering necessary college and career readiness skills. Most of all, we want students to value their own stories as they learn from the stories of other people from around the world.

Anything else you want our readers to know about your organization, your mission, or your staff?

BYkids believes that knowledge is a powerful catalyst for action and we aim to add a unique perspective to the mainstream media as a means of inspiring that action.

The views and opinions expressed in the Organizational Spotlight blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of NAMLE or its members. The purpose of the Organizational Spotlight blog is to highlight our Organizational Partners and give them a place to share their reflections, opinions, and ideas.

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