As part of its award-winning Stop Bullying: Speak Up campaign, Cartoon Network has joined forces with inclusion-themed, youth writing nonprofit 826 National on a new initiative encouraging US elementary and middle school students to share stories about empathy and kindness.
With support from Cartoon Network, and aided by writing workshops created by 826 National and its network of eight youth writing organizations, hundreds of students—many from traditionally under-resourced communities—submitted fiction and non-fiction stories to the Inclusion Storytelling Project.
The stories will be compiled into eight illustrated publications to be presented by the young authors at book launches hosted by each of 826 National’s eight chapters. To kick things off, 826′s Echo Park location in L.A. held the first book release event on December 7. Upcoming events are scheduled for San Francisco, Ann Arbor/Detroit, Boston, Chicago, New York City, and Washington, D.C. into early next year.
The stories will also be turned into lessons for teachers via 826 National’s pay-what-you-want online resource platform for educators, 826 Digital. The nonprofit’s chapters currently serve more than 1,000 teachers and 32,000 students annually in the US offering five free core programs: After-School Tutoring, Field Trips, Workshops, Young Authors’ Book Project, and In-School Programs.
The initiative comes as inclusivity-themed content continues to resonate with children. New research from Insight Kids found that kids don’t like when a show is targeted at one gender or another. They prefer content that breaks down gender barriers and reflects diversity and inclusivity. One of the more recent examples of inclusive content is Marvel Entertainment’s newly announced multiplatform animation franchise Marvel Rising, which will feature female leads from various backgrounds.