January 17, 2008

Film On Childhood Issues to Air On All Michigan PBS Outlets

Airdate: April 15, 2008 - 9PM

FLINT, Mich. – “Where Do The Children Play?” is a new one-hour film that tackles issues about childhood and growing up today. The film will air on public broadcasting stations across Michigan in April. In addition, American Public Television has agreed to distribute it nationwide to PBS stations beginning in May.

Told largely in the voices of children, it examines alarming changes that have occurred in children’s lives in the span of a generation: disconnection from nature, disappearance of play spaces, increasing obesity, psychological and medical problems and drug prescriptions. This shift in health patterns is directly related to changes in the metropolitan landscape.

Free play in the natural world, which the baby-boomer generation and their parents took for granted, is something that many children growing up today will never know. Researchers have found that in the last 20 years, the "average home range" for American suburban children has shriveled from a radius of one mile to as little as 550 yards.  Only one-third of children in the nation are bused to school, ten percent walk or ride their bicycle, and the rest are driven.

As more green space is paved over, as inner cities are further neglected, as the fear of strangers intensifies, children are relegated to worlds without sidewalks or main streets and no means of physically connecting to or becoming part of a wider community of neighbors.  Lost are those secret spaces where children once learned and played.  They have less privacy, yet paradoxically, more unrestricted access to adult media. Experts are only now beginning to understand the consequences of sprawl and lifestyle changes on children's health and development.

Shot entirely in Michigan – Beaver Island, Flint, Detroit and Ann Arbor – the program combines new research and compelling stories from children themselves. Supported by the work of urban planners, health experts, educators, and environmentalists, the documentary enables viewers to better understand the realities of children's lives in major urban centers and their surrounding communities. “Where Do The Children Play?” will leave audiences with an increased awareness of and compassion for today’s children.

The film was developed and produced by Metrocom International for Michigan Public Media, the public television and radio broadcast arm of the University of Michigan. The project was produced written and directed by Ann Arbor filmmaker Christopher Cook, winner of eleven local EMMYs for documentary and other film work. Mark J. Harris, a three-time Academy Award winner (Redwoods, Long Journey Home, Into The Arms of Strangers: Stories of the Kindertransport) was the consulting producer. Jennifer White, station manager of Michigan Television/WFUM-TV, is the executive producer.

Participants in the film include: Richard Louv, journalist and author of “Last Child In The Woods”; Dr. Elizabeth Goodenough, childhood expert and lecturer at the University of Michigan; Dr. Rowell Husemann, media violence expert, University of Michigan; Robin Means Coleman, media expert, University of Michigan; Dr. Stuart Brown MD, director, Institute for Play; Joan Almon, founder, Alliance for Childhood; Prof. Claire Gallagher Georgian Court University; Dr. Kenneth Ginsberg, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

The film will air at 9 PM on Tuesday, April 15, 2008 by common carriage on all seven Michigan PBS affiliated broadcast stations and cable outlets: WTVS-56 (Detroit), WKAR-TV (East Lansing), WGVU-TV (Grand Rapids), WCMU-TV (Mt. Pleasant), WNMU-TV (Marquette), WDCQ-TV (University Center) and WFUM-TV (Flint),and cable outlets in Kalamazoo and Traverse City. After its statewide Michigan airing, it will move to American Public Television which has agreed to distribute it nationally for airing on PBS stations over the next 2 years.

Funding for the film was provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Ruth Mott Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, and the Herrington-Fitch Family Foundation.

CONTACT:  Christopher Cook, President, Metrocom International, 734.327.1910 

back to news index