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Wishing you a Happy Holiday

Thursday, December 15th, 2022

All of us at KIDS FIRST! send you our best wishes for a happy holiday season. Whatever holiday you celebrate, this is a time to slow down, spend time with our family and friends and reflect on our past year. As the year rapidly winds down, please consider investing in our shared future.  Even as the nation and world shut down during the 2020 pandemic, the KIDS FIRST! Film Critics persevered, and thrived. We shifted from attending live events to attending online events — screening films, interviewing talent, attending virtual red carpets – without dropping a beat. As challenging as it was, our young reporters rose to the occasion and amazed us all.

As life has returned to a new normal, our team are returning to live events but, online events have claimed a space that makes sense. It levels the playing field for our reporters so that a child living outside of LA or New York City, where live events mostly take place, can still participate.

If you have followed us you have seen our reporters grow and thrive – before, during and after the pandemic. We give them a voice, an audience to share their insights about the media that impacts their lives. Most of our reporters envision a future in the entertainment business as creators; they plan to bring you the type of media they want to see. We are helping them realize those dreams as they are consistently offered opportunities to watch a wide assortment of films from mainstream studios as well as lesser known filmmakers worldwide. We invite you to be part of that process.


As we celebrate our 31st anniversary, we are grateful to supporters like you who help keep this program alive and relevant. Our staff that works with these kids and coaches them with every assignment are the above the line contributors that are invisible to you, but critical to our reporters. Your support is needed to help provide professional assistance by our team.

I recently have had the privilege of meeting with several of our alumni, some of whom you might remember. For example Gerry O., from Los Angeles, is now a senior at NYU Tisch School of the Arts and working for an animation company. Alejandra G., from Miami, recently was hired as a reporter for NBC News in Manhattan. They both talked about how their experience with KIDS FIRST! helped guide them to where they are now. I also visited with from Samantha M. who recently graduated from Cal State San Diego and is thriving on the east coast. Kayla and Kendyl P., both recent college graduates, recently wrote me saying “KIDS FIRST! taught me so much about myself, my craft and the industry. I will cherish those memories forever.”

The mother of a current reporter, Hanadie K., recently wrote me saying, “Thank you again for the life-changing opportunities you create for these children. You are a true gem and your work is going to leave a legacy and imprint on the hearts of so many.”  

We believe in these kids.
They are the Creatives Of Tomorrow.  

As we approach the end of 2022, we invite you to help us make an impact on the future of children’s entertainment by helping support these young people that we work with today. Contributions from individual donors like you help us meet our annual fundraising goals and provide critical funding that  supports all the back-end work at our office – our coaches and editors, our IT and promotion team, our podcast producer and weekly e-zine editor.

At this time, we invite you to join millions around the world in supporting the causes they care about. Now more than ever, we need your support to keep our film critics program alive and well. No gift is too small or large. Every dollar counts. You have the power to shape the entertainment industry and transform young people’s lives by supporting this program.

KIDS FIRST! is a project of the national 501(c)(3) Coalition for Quality Children’s Media. Your donation is tax deductible to the degree allowed by law.

Support The Creatives of Tomorrow


A contribution of any amount is meaningful. Here are some ideas of what different amounts sponsor:  

$ 20 Sponsors a youth filmmaker wanting to submit a film to our festival

$ 120 Sponsors one tween or teen at film critics Boot Camp

$ 2000 Sponsors a mini film critics boot camp at a local film festival

$ 5000 Supports a youth film critic for one year

For more details, visit out GoFundMe page. Thanks in advance for your help.


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KIDS FIRST! Joins Kenn Viselman & MeteoHeroes To Create The Most Comprehensive Climate Education Initiative Ever In America

Wednesday, July 20th, 2022

Children’s and Family Entertainment mega-hit maker and producer Kenn Viselman, known for some of the most ground-breaking and successful children’s TV series of all time (Thomas the Tank Engine, Teletubbies & more), is mad as hell and can’t take it anymore. Now he needs YOUR help, through a new GoFundME campaign, to establish The Most Comprehensive Climate Education Initiative EVER in the US, with plans to extend around the world.

Whether or not you personally believe in Climate Change, our children are gravely concerned about it. According to a recent study by Bath University, 84% of kids worldwide are “worried” to “extremely worried” about climate change and fear that the world will not be here when they grow up.

Viselman is executive producing the incredibly timely and imperative new children’s series, MeteoHeroes, the definitive series about Climate Education, already airing in 145 countries. 

The MeteoHeroes are a group of pint-sized superheroes, each of whom represents the seven continents and different natural elements. Working in tandem to fight climate change disasters, our fearless heroes go to battle using their unique superhuman abilities to save our planet. With humor and respect for its audience, the MeteoHeroes make the viewer part of the solution to the devastation they are seeing around them.

Even with the award-winning MeteoHeroes’ Special airing on PBS stations and record-breaking ratings around the globe Viselman has been unable to get anyone in government to act on the issue of climate education, no matter how loudly he yelled from the rooftops… “Our kids are freaking out… Our kids are freaking out!FED UP WITH GOVERNMENT INACTION THEY LAUNCH A GOFUNDME CAMPAIGN


This Climate Education Initiative helps children feel hopeful and realize that they have the power to change the world… with a global message to kids – “you don’t need to wear a cape to be a superhero.”  Because EVERY child in America and around the world is entitled to climate education.

Knowing that Governor Newsom was a huge supporter of climate education for America’s youth, Viselman’s team arranged with officials in San Bernardino for funding to be included in the most recent California fiscal budget and was devastated to learn that the line item had been secretly and anonymously eliminated by someone who he believes is in Newsom’s administration and was either to undermine the governor or because they were clandestinely a climate denier.

Knowing the urgency of the situation as children are continuing to suffer and that it could take as much as another year to get the line item reinstated, Viselman felt he had no choice but to act now.


This initiative, the largest of its kind, will include in-school, age graded educational materials for children 4 to10 years old, onscreen education with online educational materials for children and their families, plus broad community outreach and more.


Frustrated as “heck,” Viselman had enough and recruited Coalition for Quality Children’s Media / KIDS FIRST! to be the fiduciary of the GoFundMe campaign. Along with KIDS FIRST! The following companies have already committed to bringing this climate education initiative to all corners of the earth.

The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company’s producing partner, Mondo TV Studios S.A., one of the largest producers of animation in Europe, and Luigi Latini’s Meteo Experts, a global team of renowned meteorologists who have been studying the climate since 1995, together with Adventure 2 Learning, the educational platform created and curated to support active learning in pre-K through 8th grade, will put this climate education initiative into 30,000 schools across the country with an age-graded curriculum for kids ages 4 to 10. This alone will impact 15,000,000+ US students and millions more in at least the twenty other countries A2L services across the globe.  

KVIE PBS will be the “presenting station” and is working with many PBS stations across the country for them to broadcast and/or stream MeteoHeroes in conjunction with an original companion series, Real Superheroes Don’t Wear Capes, to be produced in cooperation with KIDS FIRST! The initiative will implement both on-screen and online educational materials, and create opportunities for PBS stations to be active partners in their communities.

Wherever MeteoHeroes is watched, Viselman and Mondo TV Studios S.A. will offer elements of this education initiative. The age-graded curriculum will be available to any media partner of the series, to be shared with their audiences, both broadcast and on-line.


The team behind this initiative are committed to starting work on the various elements as soon as funding becomes available. The campaign will start immediately and initial funds will be used for the development of age-graded curriculum materials and other production costs. The plan is for Adventure 2 Learning to have access to distribute MeteoHeroes in the 2022-23 school years.


The campaign goal is to raise 10 million dollars. All donations, whether $10 or $10,000 go to KIDS FIRST!, are tax deductible and extremely meaningful.  And for every donation, regardless of the amount, MeteoHeroes will plant a tree in honor of the donation in one of the MeteoHeroes’ forest across the globe.

Viselman’s hope is to use the power of storytelling to change the world… with your help that dream will become reality.  If we don’t help our children…  who will? Learn more directly from Kenn Viselman https://youtu.be/Qg9vinKDNBI

KIDS FIRST! – KIDS FIRST! is a project of the 31-year-old non-profit (501-c-3) Coalition for Quality Children’s Media that evaluates, rates and endorses children’s feature films, digital media, audio recordings and television shows. KIDS FIRST!’s goal is to empower children to make wise media choices and to promote quality media products that enrich their lives. The KIDS FIRST! stamp of approval assures you the programming contains no gratuitous violence, no inappropriate sexual behavior, and no bias in terms of race, gender, culture or religion. For more information, please visit: www.kidsfirst.org

About Adventure 2 Learning – Adventure 2 Learning believes that every meaningful learning experience is an adventure. The educational platform offers a rich selection of video-centered resources, specially created and curated to support active learning in pre-kindergarten through 8th grade. Adventure 2 Learning’s programs are used in over 30,000 schools, providing educational experiences that are engaging, impactful, and fun. For more information, visit https://www.adventure2learning.com/.

About Mondo TV Studios – Mondo TV Studios is part of the Mondo TV Group, a leading European company in the production and distribution of audio-visual content. Mondo TV Studios operates in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Latin America and the Spanish-speaking markets of the United States. Mondo TV Studios’ animation services range from animation for children and fiction for adolescents, families and adults, to forays into new segments such as video games.  Mondo TV Studios is a company that has been listed on the BME Growth Market since 2016 under the ticker MONI. For information: www.mondotvstudios.com

About The itsy bitsy Entertainment Company – With over 25 Billion dollars in commercial success, Kenn Viselman’s itsy bitsy Entertainment, is one of the world’s most successful and admired independent children’s entertainment companies. Committed to changing the world through storytelling, his brands have become wildly efficacious both on and off the screen including award winning television series as well as top-selling toys, books, videos, clothing and numerous other ancillary products. TibECo is committed to engaging, entertaining, enlightening wonderfilled family entertainment both on and off the screen which emphasize the message of empathy and LOVE. itsy bitsy Entertainment… works for Families! ™

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Campfire Stories for an Evolving World * Inspirational Stories To Address The Ever-Changing World We Live In

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2022

The child in us yearns for simple answers to complex questions. How do we open to new ways of thinking? How can we live in community and still respect the individual? Who are we, and do we have the ability to transform ourselves and, perhaps, each other? This book starts with a set of values that can be true for anyone and a reminder that our hearts hold goodness waiting to be revealed. These stories and drawings are for our children, our future, and they are for you, too. Let the magic transform you and inspire a world filled with unity, compassion and love.

KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Ashleigh C. comments, “Author Genie Valen writes camp stories in a very unconventional way. This book sets itself apart from other popular stories such as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Ms. Valen tells important and modern life lessons for an evolving world where future generations are facing different issues that call for a different type of campfire stories.” Dominic D. adds, “Exciting, educational, powerful, delightful, and so many other adjectives can be used to describe Genie Valen’s new book, Campfire Stories for an Evolving World.  This collection of inspirational short stories not only serves to provide readers with ways to critically think about the ever-changing world we live in, but also gives us strategies to help us face the unknown challenges of an evolving society.” See their full reviews below.

Campfire Stories for an Evolving World

By Ashleigh C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, 17

Author Genie Valen writes camp stories in a very unconventional way. This book sets itself apart from other popular stories such as Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark. Ms. Valen tells important and modern life lessons for an evolving world where future generations are facing different issues that call for a different type of campfire stories.

Campfire Stories for an Evolving World uses bookending where two stories are happening simultaneously. The story starts off with a family traveling to go camping. As issues arise a prayer from the father of the family creates the start of a mystical storytelling. This then ignites into the telling of different stories with different lesson. Will the family be able to learn from this lesson and navigate this evolving world?

This book is such an interesting approach to telling a camp story. It really challenges the idea that the real monsters we should fear are the fear to dream and to not be afraid of change. In the age of social media this is a great guide for younger kids who may need help with self-worth and image. That brings me to my favorite part of this book. I love the story of Lizard Boy best. It really captures the message of being comfortable with your circumstances without letting it define who you are and how you feel. My favorite character, however, is the elder who appears at the campfire to tell the stories. Her character represents any person you may look up to.

There are so many messages in this book. The main message is to be confident in navigating this modern new world. Make sure you take advantage of the people around who can help you on your journey, highlighted in the story entitled Lellie’s Adventure. This book promotes positive social behavior.

I give Campfire Stories for an Evolving Stories World 5 out 5 stories. I recommend for ages 6 to 18, plus adults.

Campfire Stories for an Evolving World (2021)

By Dominic D., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Age 11

Exciting, educational, powerful, delightful, and so many other adjectives can be used to describe Genie Valen’s new book, Campfire Stories for an Evolving World.  This collection of inspirational short stories not only serves to provide readers with ways to critically think about the ever-changing world we live in, but also gives us strategies to help us face the unknown challenges of an evolving society. This is a book that people of all ages should keep within arm’s reach to read when times get tough.

Author Genie Valen has created a small masterpiece of literature built on a foundation of love. Her book starts off with an author’s note that sets the stage with, “if every cloud has its silver lining, then every silver lining is a doorway to transformation.”  Life has its many challenges and these challenges only get more complex in an evolving world. Stories in the book help readers get through difficult times and offer positive strategies to transform us—to help conquer our battles, and to make us better people altogether. Her practical stories of overcoming fear, finding one’s self, embracing friendship, and having a strong connection to nature are all great reminders of how we should live our lives.

What I enjoyed most about this book is that the stories are short yet chock-full of uplifting messages for teachable moments. The stories reflect the reality of what kids and adult face within our society today. With critical thought and strategies built on understanding and love, we should all feel empowered to move beyond those challenges. The stories are engaging and written such that kids of all ages can connect and interact with them. Leslie Cook’s illustrations are a simple yet enjoyable bonus.

Each story in Campfire Stories for an Evolving World carries its own message; however the overall message of the book is that if there is love in our hearts, there is love in this world. Our evolving world can appear “ugly,” hardened, and hopeless at times, yet each of us has the ability to change that.  Love runs deep within us all and softens the heart, which is the most powerful tool for transformation! This book is more than a book to be pulled out and read around a campfire, but rather its powerful messages are a great tool, and can be read and shared on any given day.

I give Campfire Stories for an Evolving World 5 out of 5 stars. I recommend it for ages 5 to 18. Adults will also love and appreciate this book. The book is available now and you can purchase a copy wherever books are sold.  

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Wednesday, February 16th, 2022

The UH KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, presented by Outreach College, continues with FREE virtual screenings — plus coming up this weekend, live stream interview/Q&A sessions with filmmakers and crew. Programs focus on climate change and the environment, space and technology, social justice and tolerance, arts and culture…and just plain fun.

All films stream free of charge. Click on the “Reserve Tickets” button for an All Access Pass to the festival. To reserve tickets for thematic film blocks/individual films, go directly to the Virtual Festival Catalog. Be sure to check out our live streaming interviews and Q&A’s this weekend.
For free tickets to all live streams and virtual screenings, visit kidsfirsthawaii.eventive.org


Films available for viewing from Feb 16, 12am – Feb 21, 11:45pm

You Do You No Matter Who – Part 1 • 9 films

With artistry and humor, short films about building bridges and finding common ground across differences. Positive messages: never give up, resist giving in to social pressures, celebrate who you are.



Films available for viewing from Feb 17, 12am – Feb 21, 11:45pm

Music Moves • 2 films

Pops is Tops is a musical journey through the home and life of Louis Armstrong.

Quaranteened: A Virtual Musical, from The Theatre Bug in partnership with MA2LA, was written by teen writers, recorded from home, and produced remotely.



Films available for viewing from Feb 18, 12am – Feb 21, 11:45pm

All Kine Kids • 9 films

Delightful tales of kids being kids everywhere — from the school room to the stage to the reindeer roundup — from the US, Canada, Belgium, Iran, and Mongolia.


MORE TO COME! The Festival continues through February 21 with streaming films & live stream events with film creatives.


For free tickets to all live streams and virtual screenings, visit kidsfirsthawaii.eventive.org

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UH KIDS FIRST! Film Festival

Tuesday, February 8th, 2022

WATCH THE FREE FILMS – Chat with the Creatives

The UH KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, presented by Outreach College, celebrates the 30th anniversary of the national KIDS FIRST! with over 100 free virtual screenings and live stream interviews/Q&A sessions with filmmakers and crew.

Join us online with the filmmaking creatives! Details and free tickets here.

For free tickets to all virtual screenings, visit kidsfirsthawaii.eventive.org.

On-demand viewing: Feb 12, 12:00am – Feb 21, 11:45pm HST

Follow the adventures of the small but mighty gang. Episode features a “sign over” performance by deaf actress Shaylee Mansfield.

Live stream interview/Q&A: Feb 12, 12:00pm-12:30pm

Johanna Stein, Executive Producer and Showrunner
TJ Sullivan, Supervising Director
Justin Maurer, ASL Consultant
Delbert Whetter, ASL Consultant
Jevon Whetter, ASL Consultant  

On-demand viewing: Feb 12, 12:00am – Feb 21, 11:45pm HST

Three hand-painted animated shorts: Blue Cooler, Hepa, & Rolling Down Like Pele

Live stream conversation with Laura Margulies: Feb 12, 1:00pm-1:30pm HST

Laura Margulies combines motion, color, texture, live action, rhythm and sound to create award-winning, expressive films. She often animates with paint in a stop motion style. Her films have screened worldwide; her commissioned work has aired on CBS, MTV, VH1, and the Sundance Channel. She is an Assistant Professor of animation at the Academy of Creative Media at UH Mānoa.

On-demand viewing: Feb 19, 12:00am – Feb 21, 11:45pm HST

Four animated shorts: Lilly Goes to the Dogs, Lilly Goes Fishing,  Lilly and the Baby, & Pollution Solution

Live stream chat with members of the Bum Family: Feb 19, 11:30am-12:00pm HST

The Bum Family are a group of Calgarian cousins – Maezy, Medina, and Zaiyah Dennie and Berlin, Ocean, and Sol Demuth – who create anarchy, hilarity and art. They write the concepts, create the artwork, direct, animate. and edit their award-winning films together, and recently made a short film for preschoolers for Sesame Street. Representing will be Maezy Dennie (age 19), Medina Dennie (age 17), and Zaiyah Dennie (age 15).

On-demand viewing: Feb 20, 12:00am – Feb 21, 11:45pm HST

Eleven-year-old Bobo Gallagher is the youngest person to cross the ʻAlenuihāhā Channel via wing foil. His sister Deveraux directed and edited the documentary of his journey.

Live stream interview/Q&A with Bobo Gallagher and Deveraux Gallagher: Feb 20, 11:30am-12:00pm HST

Get the back-story on the Channel crossing, and whatʻs next for water athlete Bobo and his sister Devereaux.

On-demand viewing: Feb 20, 12:00am – Feb 21, 11:45pm HST

Two episodes: The Adventure Begins is the origin story of the series. In Noise Pollution, the MeteoHeroes rescue a pod of dolphins in the Pacific Ocean who are disoriented by a shipʻs powerful sonar.

On-demand viewing: Feb 20, 12:00am – Feb 21, 11:45pm HST

Pre-recorded: Interview with Luigi Latini, Creator/Executive Producer of MeteoHeroes, which airs in over 140 countries and is dubbed in 20 languages. He is CEO and Partner of the famous private Weather Center in Italy, MOPI (Meteo Operations Italia). Latini stated, “MeteoHeroes was born precisely from our need to put kids first in education towards the need to recycle, consume better, fight pollution and tackle climate change….”

Live stream Q&A with Kenn Viselman, Showrunner/Executive Producer: Feb 20, 1:00pm-1:30pm

Kenn Viselman has created, produced, marketed and consulted on dozens of family entertainment projects and is the producing partner behind the Teletubbies in the Western Hemisphere. He is currently the showrunner for Moonzy, which has garnered over 10 billion views on YouTube, as well as MeteoHeroes, the definitive family series about climate change.­­

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