Katelynn Gibbs, 9, attends Gotwals Elementary School in Norristown. Her school is a participant in the news program. She has been a featured writer in her school’s newspaper. Katelynn was a news anchor for the production and had a lot of takeaways from this year’s project.
“For me, it was mostly what we learned. So it was like how to work a video camera and how to detail your writing. Small things like that made it very fun, because the tiniest things improved what I learned in school. Because in school, I knew most of it and it moved my grades up more than what I had before I started,” Katelynn said.
If she doesn’t become a future United States president, Katelynn said she wants to be a lawyer when she gets older, because she loves to research different topics and hear arguments.
“When you do law school, you get a better chance at becoming president — well, you kind of have to do law school actually. So I really want to be president when I’m older,” Katelynn said.
‘How We Heal’ production inspired by 70s classics
Rodney Whittenberg works as a consultant for Healthy NewsWork. Inspired by the children’s shows of the 1970s like Zoom and Sesame Street, he came up with the idea of doing a kids news program like the spirit of the ones he grew up watching.
He talked to Uhlman about the idea and they got to work.
“This is a full blown production, and I’m the director, producer, sound mixer, musician, composer, editor,” Wittenberg said.
He has a history of working with nonprofits and he credits Healthy NewsWorks for already having a strong foundation that allowed for the seamless addition of video production.
All it needed was a little augmenting and suddenly the students had more than enough material for background video.
“We wanted everything to authentically come from the kids. So we had them, as they were doing their interviews and they’re writing out their interviews, particularly for the book and for the newspaper, we also asked them to think about what that would look like visually. And so, they came up with all these drawings that related to the interviews that they were doing,” Wittenberg said.
He called the students brilliant, but he expected nothing less. Wittenberg has always believed that young people can do amazing things, if given “the space and the opportunity and the resources to do it.”
Wittenberg saw first hand that the students were taking their jobs seriously. They had excellent follow-up questions. Wittenberg described it as powerful.
“It’s a real news program with real information that is important to how all of us heal. It’s not just for kids, adults can learn from it as well,” he said. “And that is the thing I’m most proud of — that it actually speaks to everybody.”
For people interested in how they can heal, Uhlman said that they can visit the Healthy NewsWorks companion site to read the book. She encourages groups that would like to see the film to reach out.