In 2001 we set out to interview kids over a 5000 day period (roughly K-12) on film to record what it’s like to grow up in America today. Over the past 14 years, hundreds of kids from around the world have been added to the project, revealing some of the challenges that kids face in their young teen years no matter where they live.
The first few years of the project highlighted a startling revelation: almost every child, regardless of education, privilege, or background, feels completely alone, like he or she is the only one experiencing these feelings. Children tend to feel too old to talk to their parents and too young to talk to each other. This normally results in years of adolescent turmoil where confidence and self-image plummet and desperate decisions are made.
Some of the stories we've captured over the years are made into films to let children know in the most convincing way possible that they are not alone. It is vital that participants maintain 100% ownership of their footage so when a film is made, it is the kids (and parents) who decide that they want to help others by sharing their stories.
As the Project has evolved beyond the documentary series, we've explored new ways to help more youth capture and effectively process their own stories. We've developed guided video journals designed to open intellectual and emotional doors, build self-awareness and self-confidence. Instead of becoming victims of forces that rule them, whether they be familiar patterns or emotional mysteries made all the more confusing by hormones, children can start to understand those forces with the hope of becoming masters of them. Adults do this—so why not kids? By age 13, kids are starting to make key life-altering decisions and they’re largely making them in the dark.
Socrates said, "know thyself." By asking challenging questions of themselves on a regular basis—especially at the least self-aware period of their lives—children can gain self knowledge and perspective.