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Film Review: Rise Up
by Karen Pecota

Twelve elementary-school-age children, ages five-to-eleven-years-old, representing different parts of the world, were asked to respond to questions given from an Environmentalist. This introspective short film Rise Up begins as, one-by-one, each child featured runs excitedly to a place in front of the camera. Ready to be interviewed, each child takes place in a chair set in front of a live natural landscape as a background.

These are the questions they entertain:

  1. What do you think is the world's worst problem right now?

  2. Do adults make good role models?

  3. Do you consider yourself to be a role model?

The children have no problem sharing their answers. In reference to the world's worst problem they say, "The world will be a giant garbage can", or "Killing elephants," or "Racism, poverty, earth pollution, hate each other," or "Boys and girls are not treated the same," or "Bullying," or "Child labor and human slave trade," or "Afraid my friends will be put into cages," etc.

The children feel like adults are not always good role models mainly due to a lack of responsibility to meet the needs of those in their community and within the world. They view adults as being less concerned about others and they challenge adults to be more aggressive to care for our planet.

The idea of each child seeing itself as a role model begins with a conversation where they explain what they are currently doing to help the environment. They see themselves as part of the solution in order to make the world a better place by putting words to action.

Remember their age! Here is what they share with glee, "I recycle glass bottles and cans," or "I plant trees and things," or "I make and give plush unicorns to cancer patients," or "I want to change the world by being a super hero and fight bad people," or "Me and fifteen other kids from around the world went to the United Nations to ask them what the world leaders are doing to take action on climate change," or "I collect soda can tabs and make wheelchairs for the disabled," or "I write poems to give to others," or "I give breakfast to the local police with my mom," or "I made my first comic book at age 5 1/2 and recycle them," or "I help save turtles at the beach with my dad."

Listening to children share their perspective on world issues is inspiring because they speak the truth, they speak from the heart, and their transparency is endearing. It would behoove adults to look at the world through the lens of a child because they just might learn something important to act upon.