Saturday, November 17, 2007

Teaching diversity: 6ABC news story

Henry kids learn about diveristy as told in this local news story. Text below, video on 6ABC.

Meet Teddy P. Brains: An Action News Special Report
By Lisa Thomas Laury

May 24, 2007 - Two video producers from the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia are using animation to tackle the subjects of racial diversity and stereotypes for an audience of children.

It's the main character in their video that the creators hope will help change perceptions and attitudes. He's an animated character of color in an intellectual environment. He's no brat, nor braggart. He is Teddy P. Brains -- a confident, curious, 3-D animated character, who just happens to be African-American.

He's valedictorian of his kindergarten class; An elfish erudite example of excellence, eager to express his effulgence in entomology and the eco-system.

The Brains behind Teddy P., are Joseph L. Lewis and Eugene Haynes. The idea for the project grew from their concern about the absence of diverse educational programming for children.

"We both had children and we wanted to find something that was reflective of the society we live in," said Lewis.

So Teddy P. Brains was born! While Lewis and Haynes weaved the educational elements into the story, students from local universities helped with the animation.

The fact that Teddy's middle initial, P, may indicate pea brain or small brain to some is really a double entendre.

"His actions are very counter to that, so the P really represents powerful, progressive," said Haynes.

The idea is to teach kids that they define who they are. Teddy P. Brains is definitely not a small thinker.

We showed the video to a kindergarten class at the CW Henry School in Mt. Airy. They quickly began interacting with the star character's theme song.

Teddy encourages children to ask questions and seek answers.

"We believe that any child's aspirations or their dreams first come from a comfort level of being able to ask a question about something that interests them," said Lewis.

What is also critical is that the video entertains and educates all children. Not one of the youngsters at the CW Henry School commented on Teddy P's color, but nearly all were eager to share their favorite part.

"When she was crawling on the floor and said could I have a little help here," said Jared Taylor.

"It was funny when he was blowing the whistle and the dog didn't even come to him," said Emma Linneman.

We didn't have time to show the kids the ending of the story, so I left them the DVD.

"The Adventures of Teddy P. Brains; Journey into the Rain Forest" can be found at Lewis and Haynes' website at and at Amazon.Com, Barnes and Noble or by calling this toll free number, 1-800-864-0076.

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