I’m often chatting to friends and family about how we can “give back” to our community. We are often bombarded with requests for donations and we all do what we can do, right? I also believe in “doing” is very much part of “giving”. It’s equally as important to give time and effort. I strongly believe in teaching my kids that. We can buy cans of non-perishables for the local food bank, but we try and think things through and see if there’s anything else we can help do. My older son goes with Grandpa and loads up the car to make the deliveries and unloads the boxes at a community centre up north. Getting involved allows us to see and appreciate the process.
There’s a great series on television that introduces kids to this concept. GIVER is a live-action TV series that inspires children to get involved and contribute to the places they live, reclaiming and enhancing local playground spaces in parks they frequent. The show is in its second season. The producers put a call out to communities to find those in need of a new or improved playground for local kids. During each of the shows, a group of kids aged 6-12 come together to volunteer their time with host Michael Lagimodiere to build a playground in their community. With a deadline of only three days to bring their vision to life, they must decide on the playground’s theme, find out what their community wants, and how they will build it. With a dream in mind they need to work together with a plan of action. Guidance from adults and with a little extra help (safety, you know) things get done. But they also face some challenges along the way. How do they work together is just as important as the end result.
I had the opportunity to chat with the host of GIVER, Michael Lagimodiere, about his experience working on the show with the kids…
The kids on the show look like they had a lot of fun, was there any particular moment that stood out for you as the host?
Before working on GIVER, my days were spent designing, building, and renovating homes. Working in front of the camera lens was not in the cards- as far as I thought! A moment that still stands out is the morning of the first day of filming and how terrifying it was- and how may takes it took. I heard “…and action” about 30 times before the first scene was good enough. After that experience, the moment that stays with me from every episode is the lead up to the ribbon cutting, with smiling, nervous, and excited children giving a speech in front of their community. The bond between the six children, the pride in what they’ve accomplished, the support coming back from the excited audience – it’s beautiful.
How has the working with the kids changed the way you view things?
I have two young daughters who keep my views on kids pretty current, but what GIVER reminds me is to challenge them, show them practical (life) skills at an early age, and to let them make choices that affect their lives and surroundings. My oldest daughter is about to get her own bedroom, and I want her to make the choices in layout and colour (from a curated palette…), and plan her own room. I think children should have more input – they will surprise you.
For kids “giving back” is a rewarding experience, do you have a personal experience to share?
I (and the crew) have been grateful for the legacy in our wake – we have left behind us 23 fantastic playgrounds and have met and worked beside exceptional children and volunteers.
The projects on the show are big dreams – but together they were able to achieve their goals. But what were some of the challenges they faced?
I could fill volumes with this question. We’ve had challenges in all the parks from inadequate or wrong materials to late deliveries of key components, site conditions including floods and knee-deep mud, or over the top hot sun. Building CSA compliant play structures that are fun is surprisingly tricky. We do ourselves no favors and are constantly raising the bar on the builds, and often mid-way through an episode shoot.
We don’t really ever dwell, and we all maintain a positive and solution-based approach – because there is GOING TO BE A PLAYGROUND OPENING IN THREE DAYS. We have a lot of help and support, and the schedule has a way of making solutions appear as fast as the problems.
What would you want to tell kids about “giving”?
To do it. To take the chance, to try, to challenge themselves to care about their community and those in it. It will reward greatly. Watch the show and get inspired.
GIVER will air on TVO starting on April 30, 2014.
For more information visit www.tvokids.com
Here’s the trailer…