MISSOULA – Montana Public Radio has created a series of children’s programs called “Kids Like You and Me” that gives children who are differently abled opportunities to talk about their differences, including how it feels to be excluded, mocked or bullied – or accepted.
The goal of “Kids Like You and Me” is to foster empathy, compassion and acceptance through personal stories and educational information. Producers for the series are Annie Garde, MTPR director of children’s programming, and Chérie Newman, MTPR arts and culture producer.
Six episodes of “Kids Like You and Me” have been broadcast during MTPR’s popular children’s programs “Pea Green Boat” and “The Children’s Corner.” Each episode also is available online at http://mtpr.org/term/kids-you-and-me and via podcast at http://mtpr.org/rss. The episodes feature kids talking about Williams Syndrome, megalencephaly, hearing loss, kindness, social isolation and bullies.
“I had never heard of Williams Syndrome or megalencephaly,” said Newman, whose grant proposal won the initial funding from the Greater Montana Foundation. “I’ve enjoyed working on the project with Annie and have learned something new with each episode.”
Garde hopes that “kids – and grownups – who hear this series will think, ‘Oh I understand now. That kid isn’t weird. She has thoughts and feelings just like mine. I'm going to be a better friend to her. She really is a kid like you and me.’”
All episodes of “Kids Like You and Me” are a free resource for parents, caregivers and teachers who want to begin or moderate relevant conversations.
The Greater Montana Foundation funded the first five episodes of “Kids Like You and Me.” Stephanie Frostad, an artist from Missoula, contributed to funding for the sixth episode. Montana Public Radio is seeking program sponsors and grant funding for future episodes in the series, which has received accolades from many listeners, teachers and parents.