2013 COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AWARD
Curious Kids Initiative
Nominated by WGCU, Fort Myers FL
WGCU Public Media and PBS have a solid reputation for providing the best in educational television and community outreach to support children's learning. WGCY recently expanded their outreach through its "Curious Kids Initiative" to reach Southwest Florida families in a more direct and personal way. This three-part project engages children and parents through family workshops, an award-winning local television program and a museum partnership.
The Curious Kids Family Workshops began in Fall 2011. The hour-long workshops provide parents with tools to support their children's education using the PBS Ready to Learn model -- View, Read, Do -- the Learning Triangle. The sessions are hands-on: parents and children watch a PBS Kids video clip, reading a book and do an activity together, then take home a copy of the book to continue the learning at home.
The pilot year reached nearly 700 family members through 38 workshops in eight elementary schools. As year two of the workshops comes to a close, more than 45 workshops have been held at 11 schools with more than 1,200 parents and children attending. Although not a requirement, most of the participating schools are Title I schools. Subjects for the sessions are focused in three areas: My Backyard (environment), Myself (wellness) and My World (diversity).
This educational effort not only connects WGCU with local elementary schools but incorporates the education departments of Florida Gulf Coast University and Edison State College. Student teachers from FGCY's College of Education and Edison's School of Eduction gain real-world experiene by volunteering to assist with the workshops. Working with experienced educators, the college students learn how to help parents develop skills and confidenc to guide their children to become life-long learners.
Part two of the Curious Kids Initiative is a quarterly TV show, Curious Kids, hosted by kids and for kids. As the only locally produced children's TV show in southwest Florida, Curious Kids has become a favorite among local children. Like the workshops, the show focuses on the areas of environment, wellness and diversity.
Each episode is built around a theme, such as water. The segments include a local tour or session with an expert, a music video, a global conection (information on a country and its similarity to southwest Florida) and a kid-friendly healthy recipe. The show is produced by international children's educator/singer/songwriter Rosie Emery.
Anytime the Curious Kids cast appear in public or station staff wear their Curious Kids shirts to an event, children come up to them and talk about how much they enjoy the program. WGCU just received a bronze Telly Award for Curious Kids; Curiously Creative.
Part three of the initiative is a multi-year partnership with the Golisano Children's Museum of Naples, C'mon. C'mon opened in February 2012 but had been involved with WGCU for more than two yers through joint outreach. it is southwest Florida's first inclusive learning environment developed for all children.
The museum features a permanent WGCU Curious Kids exhibit space that allows pre-teens to participate in hands-on activities focusing on My Backyard, Myself and My World. C'mon provides a full-time educator who coordinates and conducts the activities in the WGCU Curious Kids space. It is a dynamic place where kids ages 8-12 get involved in science experiments, writing, fashion design, music and more. The Curious Kids educator is there with materials and support for the ever-changing activities.
WGCU Presents! is a monthly special event held at the museum. A different PBS Kids program is highlighted each time, with special activities, episode screenings and character appearances. C'mon also is a frequent location for segments of the Curious Kids TV show and each family who attends a Curious Kids workshop receives a free admission ticket to C'mon.
The Curious Kids Initiative has an out-of-pocket expense of about $75,000 per year. The costs have been covered through corporate support to date. When additional funding is identified, The Curious Kids website will be expanded to include activities, games and interactive opportunities.
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