Kids show with Alaska Native lead gets financial backing from public broadcasting
Some Alaska kids will star in nationwide TV segments that promote an upcoming PBS kids series called "Molly of Denali," the first nationwide children's show to feature an Alaska Native lead character.
The show premieres on PBS Monday July 15.
It's being being produced by WGBH in Boston, but a $65,000 grant funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) will help Alaska Public Media and other stations design educational materials for the show, according to a release from the station Thursday.
The TV segments with Alaska kids will air between "Molly of Denali" episodes, according to the marketing and promotions manager of Alaska Public Media, Mikel Insalaco.
"The Alaska Public Media Creative Services team is producing six live-action, educational interstitial segments featuring Alaska children from across the state that will be sandwiched between Molly of Denali episodes," Insalaco wrote in an email Friday.
Alaska Public Media will work with four other stations across the country in developing additional materials: Blue Ridge PBS in Virginia, KNPB in Nevada, Mountain Lake PBS in New York and Prairie Public in North Dakota. The five stations were chosen for their social, cultural and geographic perspectives.
Insalaco says the stations will collaborate to design the final educational materials.
"They will be created using human-centered design methodology and information will be gathered in Bethel, in partnership with the local library there, by talking with families and understanding from their perspective what the needs and interests are," Insalaco wrote.
The hope is that the new materials will be helpful improve kids' understanding of Alaska Native culture, literacy and outdoor exploration, using "Molly of Denali" as a platform.
Alaska Public Media CEO and General Manager Ed Ulman says his organization will implement those strategies to create its own educational outreach to rural Alaska communities.
“We are honored to serve our rural communities with the rich educational media resources that will be created based on ‘Molly of Denali,’” Ulman said. “Working in partnership with Alaska Native advisors, WGBH, CPB, PBS Kids and rural educators will be a rich and rewarding experience that we know will lead to inspiring results for children and caregivers in Alaska.”
“Molly of Denali” features a resourceful 10-year-old Alaska Native girl named Molly Mabray who lives in a fictional Alaska town. She joins her dog Suki and friends Tooey and Trini on adventures across the state.
During her travels, Molly models traditional Alaska Native values like respecting others, sharing what you have, and honoring your elders, while also showing what contemporary rural Alaska life is like, strong female role models and how technology helps people communicate.
Editor's note: This story has been updated to include further details about the educational materials produced.
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