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Media Initiative for Children

MIFC website

Address and contact details

NIPPA
6c Wildflower Way,
Apollo Road & Boucher Road
Belfast, Northern Ireland
BT12 6TA
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9066 2825
Fax: +44 (0) 28 9038 1270
Web: www.nippa.org
Email: mail@nippa.org

Peace Initiatives Institute (Pii)
3924 15th Street
Boulder, Colorado 80304 U.S.
U.S. (001) 720-244-5917
U.K. (011+44) (0) 7791 619 782
Web: www.pii-mifc.org
Email: Paulwharris@comcast.net

Project partners

This initiative has been developed by NIPPA, the largest preschool play association in Northern Ireland, in partnership with the Peace Initiatives Institute (Pii), a Colorado-based international charity. The nearly two year long process was greatly influenced by an Advisory Board comprised of thought leaders from education, media, community and charitable organisations.

Location

Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland

Summary

The Media Initiative for Children is a joint effort between NIPPA – the Early Years Organisation (Belfast, N.I.) and the Peace Initiatives Institute (Colorado, U.S.) to use television advertisements and classroom experience to explore with very young children the value of respecting - and including - others who are different.
As a coordinated educational programme using a combination of 60 second television messages and preschool curricula, it focuses on three types of differences: physical, racial and cultural differences used by sectarianism.

Background

In June 2002, Paul Connolly, Alan Smith and Berni Kelly published a landmark report commissioned by the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council, in partnership with Channel 4. This report showed for the first time the significant affect that cultural and political influence has on the awareness and behaviour of 3-6 year olds in Northern Ireland. The report also demonstrated the increased likelihood of children to identify with a particular community as they grow older and significantly, to make sectarian statements or take actions accordingly.
Likewise, as discrimination against racial minorities and people with disabilities increases in Northern Ireland, it is likely that young children will be influenced.

Aims and objectives

  • To increase awareness among all young children 3 to 5 years of age in Northern Ireland and, indirectly, their parents and teachers of different cultural traditions, events and orientations.

  • To demonstrate respect for others who are different.

  • To encourage understanding of others who are different from us.

  • To encourage young children to include others who are different from themselves.

  • To demonstrate the benefits of behaving in a way that respects other people who are different from themselves and accepting and including those who are different rather than ridiculing, fighting with or rejecting them.

  • To create a long-term “climate shift” in the perceptions of young people living in N.I. and indirectly, influencing their parents as well.

  • Participants

    Young children, aged 3-5 years.

    Target audience

    Pre-school TV audience

    Involvement of children

    Initial research consisted of measuring young children's reactions to various elements of the adverts while still in development, using an animatic (video portrayal of storyboard), still photographs and a test soundtrack with children's voices. Specifically, these preschool children were asked about their understanding of the story, the characters' physical characteristics, actions, feelings and related activities as well as the setting. Script and character revisions were made in response to these audience responses.
    In addition, the aforementioned Dr. Paul Connolly of Queens University, Belfast is leading a Pilot Education Study of the advertisement messages and curriculum elements involving nearly 200 pre-school children 3 to 4 years of age specifically to test these materials.

    Funders

    Initial funding for the pilot phase has been provided by the U.S.-based Peace Initiatives Institute as well as by a U.S.-based foundation. Additional funding is being sought to sustain the programme over several years.

    Strength of the project

    The Characters are built in 3D in order to maximize their reality as believable beings. This gives more control in the later stages of the project and allows viewing of the park and characters from any angle, as well giving a richer visual experience. Using 3D characters also offers more flexibility to extract real emotion from the target audience.
    All characters’ characteristics are heavily exaggerated in the facial area. The bodies do have possible legs, hands and arms but it is in the face that the most animation will occur.
    Specifically, the faces are being built to express all manner of emotions and can show great sadness and joy without the use of other body language. Using exaggerated eyes, in particular, allows achieve greater communication and more empathy with the young viewer at greater distance and gives the benefit of a childlike face structure.
    Other character elements include the addition of a secondary personality symbol. This is a simple iconic design placed on the front of each character’s sweatshirt to reflect the overall personality of the character. This adds an extra layer of personality and recognition.

    MIFC website: www.mifc-pii.org

     

     

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