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Media Initiative for Children
Address and contact details
6c Wildflower Way,
Apollo Road & Boucher Road
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Tel: +44 (0) 28 9066 2825
Fax: +44 (0) 28 9038 1270
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
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.
Northern Ireland & Republic of Ireland
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
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.
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.
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
teachers of different cultural traditions, events and orientations.
demonstrate respect for others who are different.
understanding of others who are different from us.
young children to include others who are different from themselves.
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
To create a long-term “climate shift” in
the perceptions of young people living in N.I.
parents as well.
Young children, aged 3-5 years.
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
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
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.
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
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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