Nowadays with modern technology and the digital world and the tension of keeping kids interested in school, there's nothing more engaging than getting them to work in documentary.
—Jim Sanders, Freeze Frame artistic director
For Freeze Frame
's artistic director Jim Sanders, the best way for kids to learn about each other is to hand them a camera.
The Manitoba Storybook project began as a pilot program, and invited students from eight high schools in the province to take part in an exchange program. The schools were paired up, trained with the equipment, and headed into each other's communities to make a documentary about what they experienced.
"Nowadays with modern technology and the digital world and the tension of keeping kids interested in school, there's nothing more engaging than getting them to work in documentary," Sanders says.
He says the experience helps the kids recognize differences and increase compassion, and he was surprised at how far they were willing to go. "They're quite fearless once they get going. I've never experienced something more powerful than youth making documentaries," Sanders says. "All change starts at the school, if you can get kids to start asking questions, it'll help out in the long run."
Though the students who participated had to dedicate a lot of time to their documentaries, it's not a program that's recognized for any educational credit. That's something Sanders hopes will change. "It should grow and should be a credit at some point. Using documentary as a form of education is weaving its way in everywhere. They can make documentaries rather than essays."
The second year of the program is gearing up to start and Sanders says they're looking to include 20 schools this year. "As an idea, it has gained traction, and interest from schools outside of Manitoba. So it could become a global storybook project but we're starting here because there's lots to learn here. The whole world is here, the variety of cultures is amazing."
Manitoba Storybook will be screening at Hugh John MacDonald School on Oct. 11 from 7-9 p.m.