Joan Eichner (GUY 14), is one of two finalists for a $15,000 grant from the Pittsburgh Foundation / Grable Foundation initiative. Below is more information about her project, but we ask that you help out and vote for her project called DocYOUmenting Hope: The Stories of Young Learners.
About DocYOUmenting Hope: The Stories of Young Learners
Early childhood is a fascinating time of discovery intertwined with rapid learning. Young children are incredibly hopeful, parents have big dreams, and the future seems unbounded. Yet many of us donâ€™t appreciate our role in early learning. The Office of Child Development (OCD) sees a need for creative communications that portray the hopeful nature of childhood and integrate research with the voices of children. DocYOUmenting Hope will use video created by youth filmmakers to capture childrenâ€™s perspectives as they use play and relationships as vehicles to learning. Their voices will be woven with those of parents and early childhood professionals to convey childrenâ€™s dreams and parentsâ€™ hopes, linked to the science of cognitive and social-emotional development. Our goal is to increase public understanding of early child development, while inspiring adults to recognize that they have â€“ through their interactions with young children – something worth giving to nurture that youthful hope
DocYOUmenting Hope will increase appreciation for the process of cognitive and social-emotional growth of young children and share their stories of hope. It will engage youth as documentarians, parents as a childâ€™s first teacher, and researchers to share the science of early learning. Parents, community members, and other viewers will feel inspired and increase their public and political support for early childhood programs. OCD is exploring Pittsburgh Filmmakers as a potential partner and source for youth filmmakers. In the past we have partnered with organizations that document childrenâ€™s voices and they would partner with us again. We will identify children and families through the programs with which we have relationships (e.g. family centers, Early Head Start. We will distribute the video through local media outlets, public showings, all partnersâ€™ websites, and statewide via OCDELâ€™s network. DocYOUmenting Hope will be evaluated by test audiences or web-based survey after viewing.
Plan for Change
We will identify a youth filmmaker and participants through our network of community contacts. The video will pair interview-style voice segments with footage of young children learning and interacting. The voice segments will interweave the perspectives of children and parents with brief, understandable descriptions of the science of child development. We will distribute the video to target audiences and the general public using deliberate and viral marketing strategies. The video will link viewers to a website called the Wall of Hope where they can post their stories as â€œgraffitiâ€?. Families who participate will be fully informed of the purpose and uses for the video. Many parents have an ongoing relationship with us, so we expect to be successful, but this is a risk. Another consideration is effective dissemination. Working as a team, OCD staff, the filmmaker, and the families who participate will identify target audiences and effective methods of dissemination.
The juxtaposition of perspectives, the authentic voices of young children, and the focus on the hopeful, unbounded feeling of early childhood learning are what makes this project unique. Images and voices of young children, woven with the science of early development, will create a vivid and moving tool for public education. Secondly, the communications philosophy behind the project is fresh. It supposes that effective communications strategies about children are simple, positive, and meet three criteria. They evoke compassion, inspire hope, and show the audience that he or she has something worth giving or doing in support of young children. Almost every person loves a child, their own or one they know. This project puts a new spin on the scientific evidence of early childhood development and inspires viewers to become engaged with a young child in that hopeful time of exploration and discovery.
DocYOUmenting Hope is part of OCDâ€™s larger strategy to improve the effectiveness of communications about children. The video can be used indefinitely for various audiences through multiple dissemination pathways. Similar videos could be created that focus on other aspects of child development or target different audiences. The Wall of Hope will be an ongoing repository for hopeful messages between children, parents, community members, and child advocates. Many local partners exist, so support is strong and the opportunities to are many. A small part of the funding will be used to rent filming and editing equipment. Some funds will pay for a young filmmaker. An OCD staff will act as project coordinator and some funds will pay for her research, video design and implementation, website design and maintenance, and video distribution. Interviewees will volunteer to participate but will receive appropriate reimbursement for their time and insight.