Communications - A fresh perspective on child poverty

Save the Children and the Ragdoll Foundation have teamed up to create a series of six short films showing what makes children happy in deprived areas of the world.

The series, called What Makes Me Happy, took three years to film and features eight-year-old children from Nepal, the occupied Palestinian territories, Ethiopia, China, Sri Lanka and the UK. It was developed as a resource to be used in primary schools, but is also to be screened on Five from 19 to 23 December.

The Ragdoll Foundation is the charitable arm of Ragdoll, which makes children's programmes such as Teletubbies. "Ragdoll taught us that something made for TV has to be entertaining, especially if it is aimed at a younger audience," explains Adam Robertson, video producer for Save the Children.

"You have to avoid the usual NGO doom and gloom view."

Anne Wood, creative director at Ragdoll, agrees. "People who work for charities see starving children and terrible destruction, and this inevitably colours their view of the world," she says. "But people see these sorts of images on the news - they don't want to see any more of it on TV."

The pilot was filmed in a village in Nepal. Instead of approaching the local children and asking them about their problems, the charity organised a workshop at which they encouraged them to discuss what makes them happy.

"They came up with profound ideas such as being appreciated by their family for something they had done well," says Robertson.

For the second part of the project, the production team visited a run-down estate in Newcastle. Robertson says: "It couldn't be more different from the Nepalese village, but the children came out with similar responses.

They felt happy when they achieved something and it was recognised, particularly because they suffered the stigma of coming from an estate with a bad reputation."

The series has already been shown in a few schools, and Robertson describes the reaction as "fantastic".

Wood adds: "I wanted to portray the children in our series as equals with the children who would watch it, so that they would recognise them as their peers."

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