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To see the video and a documentary on diversity training at an elementary school, click on the title of this article, then on the link under “WE ARE FAMILY: A MUSICAL MESSAGE FOR ALL” on the right hand side of the page.
The much-anticipated children’s music video of the smash hit “We Are Family,” which features over 100 beloved children’s characters including Arthur, Barney, Bear, Big Bird, Clifford, JoJo and SpongeBob, is being distributed nationwide this week to over 15,000 public school districts (reaching over 60,000 public elementary schools) as well as NAIS accredited private elementary schools. The video and accompanying teacher’s guide demonstrate the importance of togetherness embodied in the word “family.” To celebrate the launch of this initiative, the video debuted today at Public School 87 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and was met with extreme enthusiasm by students and educators who embraced the video and its message. In addition, local launch events will take place at elementary schools throughout the country this week.
The We Are Family Foundation together with its partners the Anti-Defamation League, Crown Theatres, DIC Entertainment, Disney Channel, FedEx, HIT Entertainment, LazyTown Entertainment, Muppets Holding Company, Nickelodeon, Nile Rodgers/Sony Publishing, The Bernard Edwards Company, LLC, Nelvana, Scholastic, Sesame Workshop, Spellbound Entertainment, Toni Mendez Shapiro Estate, and WGBH have come together to produce and distribute this unprecedented children’s educational music video and teacher’s guide. The characters appearing in the video are from award-winning shows including Arthur, Barney, Bear in the Big Blue House, Between the Lions, Blue’s Clues, Bob the Builder, The Book of Pooh, Clifford the Big Red Dog, Dora the Explorer, Jimmy Neutron, JoJo’s Circus, Kim Possible, Lilo & Stitch: The Series, Madeline, The Magic School Bus, The Muppet Show, The Proud Family, Rugrats, Sesame Street, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Zoom, among others. The video, which also features cameo appearances by Bill Cosby, Diana Ross and Whoopi Goldberg, will air on Disney Channel and Nickelodeon on March 11, 2005 as a Public Service Announcement. In addition, the video will air sporadically on various local PBS stations throughout the months of March and April 2005. A PSA is also airing in Crown Theatres across the nation this month.
The DVD package includes the “We Are Family” music video with a special introduction from Between the Lions , a version without the introduction, a sing-along version, a special message from the video creators and a PSA. The DVD may be used alone to bring classes or school communities together, as a supplement to current family/diversity programs in schools, or as a complete educational tool utilizing the teacher’s guide provided with the DVD.
The accompanying teacher’s guide, developed by the award-winning Anti-Defamation League’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute and its Miller Early Childhood Program, includes easy-to-do lessons and activities that will help children understand the idea of global community, and to recognize that the celebration of diversity is a positive, enriching, and unifying force in our world. The teaching guide is available for download from both the Anti-Defamation League (www.adl.org) and We Are Family Foundation (www.wearefamilyfoundation.org) web sites.
The DVD and teacher’s guide are designed for use in preschool and primary grade classrooms as a supplement to instruction in literacy, math and other subjects, as well as in after-school programs that emphasize citizenship, character, diversity, and other family values. We live in a global age where learning the essential values of understanding and respect for other cultures is important. The DVD and teacher’s guide introduce these values to children through a unique mix of motivational music and educational tools.
“This is an unprecedented event: for the first time characters from all of the important kids’ shows came together to appear in the same video,” stated Christopher Cerf, award-winning children’s TV/music producer, who spearheaded production along with Mitchell Kriegman, president of Shadow Projects. “The producers and performers from each show embraced the spirit and message of this project. They were thrilled to allow their characters to appear with other characters from different shows simply because they understood the importance and meaning behind ‘We Are Family.’”
“Cooperation and unity are the most important values we can teach children. We believe that this is the essential first step to loving thy neighbor,” says Nile Rodgers, co-writer of the song “We Are Family” and founder of the We Are Family Foundation. “And the fun and exciting format makes it a lesson that’s easy for children to learn.”
FedEx has generously agreed to ship the packages to school districts the week of March 7 th for free. “FedEx is proud to provide in-kind shipping for the We Are Family project. Promoting diversity is part of our corporate culture at FedEx. As a multinational corporation, diversity is not just a people issue, it’s a business issue. We value the diversity of our employees, customers and suppliers. Helping to deliver the We Are Family Foundation messages of respect, understanding and appreciation of differences to our nation’s schoolchildren is a natural extension of how we do business,” states William G. Margaritis, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Corporate Communications.
Production of this major initiative has been funded by a grant from the Toni Mendez Shapiro Estate. “We Are Family” is used courtesy of Nile Rodgers / Sony Publishing and The Bernard Edwards Company, LLC.
Anti-Defamation League — A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE ® Institute
The Anti-Defamation League’s A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE ® Institute is a leading provider of anti-bias and diversity education training programs used by schools, universities, corporations, community organizations, and law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S. and abroad. The origins of the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE ® Institute date back to 1985, when ADL and WCVB-TV in Boston initiated the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE campaign, a year-long series of education and media-driven programs designed to combat prejudice and create effective tools to address these issues in the classroom and community. The campaign’s immense success led to ongoing programs and the 1992 official launch of the A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE ® Institute, comprised of four distinct departments — CLASSROOM, CAMPUS, COMMUNITY and WORKPLACE. The Anti-Defamation League, founded in 1913, is one of the nation’s premier human relations and civil rights agencies and is dedicated in purpose and program to combating anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defending democratic ideals and protecting civil rights for all.
Crown Theatres, L.P., one of the premiere motion picture exhibition companies in America, is a 182 Screen Motion Picture Theatre Circuit based at 64 North Main St., South Norwalk, CT 06854 with theatres in Connecticut, Maryland, New York, Illinois, Minnesota, Nevada and Florida.
DIC Entertainment, a leading children’s entertainment company, is a full-service studio dedicated to creating, developing, producing, distributing, marketing and merchandising family-based intellectual properties. DIC has distinguished itself by building one of the largest libraries of U.S. animation with more than 3,000 half-hours of renowned programming, including Trollz™, Inspector Gadget ® , Strawberry Shortcake™, Sabrina, The Animated Series™, Madeline™, Liberty’s Kids™, Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?™, Sonic the Hedgehog™, Super Mario Bros.™ and Care Bears™ . In September 2003, DIC launched the DIC Kid’s Network, a unique syndicated programming block designed to meet core FCC requirements and the only network for kids that reaches effectively 100% of U.S. households on over 450 stations, airing in every Designated Market Area across the country. As a pre-eminent supplier of kid’s programming worldwide, DIC has developed strategic partnerships with key domestic and international broadcast partners throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, Latin America, Africa and Australia. DIC is headquartered in Burbank, California with international offices in New York, Paris, London and Cologne.
Disney Channel is the only television network dedicated to kid-driven, family inclusive programming 24 hours a day. In the most recent Nielsen Media Research monthly data (October 2004), Disney Channel primetime is #1 with Kids 6-11 and Tweens 9-14. Disney Channel’s lineup, featuring original live action and animated series and movies plus contemporary acquired programming, reflects kids’ life experiences and incorporates the multiplicity of today’s world, including people of many cultures, religions, geographic locales and physical and mental capabilities. The network’s “Express Yourself” campaign featuring Disney Channel stars encouraging viewers to embrace and accept their differences also supports its dedication to communication, diversity and optimism. Playhouse Disney, a programming block for the youngest viewers, features learning-based programming that invites co-viewing with parents and caregivers. All Playhouse Disney programming is guided by a “Whole Child Curriculum,” a philosophy that suggests intelligence and learning go far beyond verbal and quantitative skills like memorizing the alphabet and learning to count. Available on basic cable in over 85 million homes, Disney Channel is part of Disney-ABC Cable Networks Group, a division of The Walt Disney Company.
FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenues of $26 billion, the company offers integrated business applications through operating companies competing collectively and managed collaboratively, under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 240,000 employees and contractors to remain “absolutely, positively” focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. For more information, visit fedex.com.
HIT Entertainment PLC
Established in 1989, HIT Entertainment PLC (www.hitentertainment.com) is one of the world’s leading preschool children’s entertainment producers and rights owners. With operations in the U.S., UK, Canada, Japan and Germany, the company’s activities span television production and distribution, home entertainment, consumer products, publishing and live events. HIT’s portfolio of internationally renowned children’s brands, such as Bob the Builder ™, Barney™, Thomas & Friends™, Pingu™ , Rubbadubbers™ and Angelina Ballerina™ are enjoyed by children in over 180 countries. In the U.S., UK and Canada, HIT Entertainment also acts as a representative for the popular preschool property, The Wiggles ® . Additionally, HIT owns the Guinness World Records Ô publishing and television property. HIT is committed to providing enduring entertainment that supports the values of devoted caregivers and empowers young children with a positive approach to life.
Muppets Holding Company
Muppets Holding Company, LLC was established in April 2004 when The Walt Disney Company purchased the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House from The Jim Henson Company. MHC’s mission is to ensure that these beloved, world-class brand franchises entertain audiences of all ages around the world and realize their maximum potential by fully leveraging Disney’s best creative resources and worldwide distribution platforms. MHC plans to develop new content in all arenas, including television, feature films, music, stage plays and theme parks, and to enhance the Muppets and Bear’s global licensing and distribution presence.
Nelvana Limited is one of the world’s leading international producers and distributors of children’s programming and products. Its current stable of franchise properties includes Emmy Award ® -winning and globally renowned brands such as Babar , Franklin , Maurice Sendak’s Little Bear , The Berenstain Bears and Beyblade . Nelvana is owned by Corus Entertainment, a Canadian-based media and entertainment company. Corus is a market leader in both specialty TV and Radio. The company’s other interests include music, television broadcasting and advertising services. A publicly traded company, Corus is listed on the Toronto (CJR.B) and New York (CJR) Exchanges. Corus’ website can be found at www.corusentertainment.com .
Nickelodeon, the only network that puts kids first, launched in 1979 and has grown to become the most-watched television network by kids in the United States and basic cable’s number-one network overall. Nickelodeon’s “kids first” philosophy is the key element to its business successes, which in addition to television now includes feature films, consumer products, records, online, recreation and publishing. Nickelodeon television programming is seen in more than 86 million households in the United States and 471 million households globally in 161 territories via channels, branded program blocks and international program sales. Nickelodeon operates 29 channels across Africa, Asia and the Pacific Rim, CIS/Baltic Republics, Europe, Latin America and the United States.
Sesame Workshop is a nonprofit educational organization making a meaningful difference in children’s lives around the world. Founded in 1968, the Workshop changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street . Today, the Workshop continues to innovate on behalf of children in 120 countries, using its proprietary research methodology to ensure its programs and products are engaging and enriching. Sesame Workshop is behind award-winning programs like Dragon Tales and Sagwa, The Chinese Siamese Cat and ground breaking multimedia productions in South Africa, Egypt and Russia. As a nonprofit, Sesame Workshop puts the proceeds it receives from sales of Sesame Street , Dragon Tales and Sagwa products right back into its educational projects for children around the world. Find the Workshop online at www.sesameworkshop.org .
Scholastic Entertainment (SE) is a leading producer of quality, family-oriented feature films, television programming, videos, and web sites and is a major developer and marketer of children’s brands worldwide. SE produces the award-winning, top-rated animated series Clifford The Big Red Dog Ò (PBS KIDS Ò ); the spin-off to this hit series, Clifford’s Puppy Days™ (PBS KIDS) ; the Emmy-award winning series I SPY (HBO Family) and The Magic School Bus Ò (TLC), starring Lily Tomlin; the award-winning Dear America Ò series; and the popular kids’ adventure series Animorphs ® and Goosebumps Ò . This fall, SE’s new series, Maya & Miguel ™, debuted on PBS KIDS GO!. Scholastic Entertainment’s critically acclaimed feature films include Clifford’s Really Big Movie , The Baby-sitters Club , The Indian in the Cupboard , and The Mighty. SE also recently announced that it will produce the award-winning Philip Pullman trilogy, His Dark Materials, for New Line Cinema . Scholastic Entertainment is the entertainment and media division of Scholastic.
Spellbound Entertainment Limited
Spellbound Entertainment Limited was formed in 2002 by Peter Curtis, previous Head of Creative Development at HIT Entertainment PLC, and Nick Barrington, a former executive at Endemol Entertainment UK PLC. An innovative, independent production studio, Spellbound Entertainment owns and controls all rights to The Koala Brothers worldwide including TV, Home Entertainment, Publishing, Licensing and Merchandising, Music and Live Events. Mr. Curtis, whose credits include serving as the Executive Producer of Bob the Builder and creator of Rubbadubbers , is Executive Producer of The Koala Brothers .
We Are Family Foundation
The We Are Family Foundation (WAFF), a not-for-profit 501©(3) organization, was founded in 2002 by legendary songwriter/producer Nile Rodgers. WAFF celebrates our common humanity and the vision of a global family by creating and supporting programs that inspire and educate individuals of all ages about diversity, understanding and multiculturalism. www.wearefamilyfoundation.org.
WGBH Boston is the producer of award-winning children’s series such as Arthur (produced with Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc.), Between the Lions (produced with Sirius Thinking, Ltd), Postcards from Buster (produced with Cookie Jar Entertainment Inc. in association with Marc Brown Studios) and ZOOM , airing on PBS and Peep and the Big Wide World (produced with 9 Story Entertainment in association with TV Ontario and Discovery Kids) airing on Discovery. Under the leadership of vice president Brigid Sullivan, the WGBH children’s lineup leads the field in educational multimedia (including the Web, broadband, and interactive television) and in technologies and services that make media accessible for people with disabilities. WGBH’s current children’s series have been recognized with some of the world’s most prestigious awards, including 10 Emmys, the George Foster Peabody award, three Prix Jeunesse awards, a BAFTA, and more than half a dozen Parents’ Choice awards.
(Posted on March 11, 2005)