There is no more genuine source of dreams and shared possibilities in our community than our children. With their unique and imaginative perspective on the world, they can encourage us all to do better.
With support from The Heinz Endowments, Fred Rogers Productions gathered a group of “real” children from a wide range of Pittsburgh neighborhoods in 2018 to talk about kindness and respect and heroes, and to tell us – in their own words – what it means to call our city their home. Pittsburghers will recognize the whimsical Randyland as one of the locations in the videos.
In light of the acts of violence in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood in October 2018, we were inspired to share these videos to inspire hope and foster healing. We hope these videos spark conversations and actions that will ultimately shape the Pittsburgh of the future.
While we were creating a distribution strategy for this series, the tragic mass shooting in Squirrel Hill occurred. Our team soon realized that this was the moment to launch the campaign.
We implemented the series to encourage children and the adults in their lives to dialogue about deeper issues and current events, and to remind parents and caregivers that their children are thinking critically about these larger issues. We hoped to inspire parents and kids to communicate with each other to foster emotional literacy, empathy, and critical thinking through simple, approachable prompts.
From that basis, we published each of the five videos in the weeks following the tragedy on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Each post led back to a landing page on the Fred Rogers Productions website.
At Fred Rogers Productions, we provide educational content that inspires lifelong learning in children. Our mission dictates that we remain experts in meeting children where they are, and communicating universal truths in ways they understand and comprehend. What we found along the way, is that children are thinking about what we might consider “grown-up” issues such as violence, homelessness, and empathy, and they express their thoughts in age-appropriate ways.
We were able to use this series to highlight the bright future Pittsburgh has in its children and use it as a call to action for adults to engage with the children in their lives.
We are pleased with the success of the series. In its first month, the series reached more than 66,000 on Facebook and Instagram and gained just over 26,600 impressions on Twitter and Instagram. Based on comments and shares, our initial goal of sparking conversation between children and their parents and caregivers was achieved.
A commenter on Facebook noted: “A wonderful, inspiring video from Fred Rogers Productions. Clearly, this is why politicos have established minimum age requirements for candidates running for office because the children have the very best ideas and grasp of things, independent of outside influence. Something to think about. The children get it. Why is it so hard for the rest of us?”