More than 500 fifth-grade students in the National School District in California have participated in a program teaching them to promote social justice causes such as gun control and immigration.
The school district, which is just outside San Diego, California, has partnered with a program called “Heroes of Color,” which has students animate videos related to a social justice topic.
CNN visited a participating school to highlight the program and some of the topic choices made by the 11- and 12-year-olds.
“I chose racism because for me, racism is something that I see often and something that happens, and I feel like all people should be treated the same way not because we’re different, but because we are all the same,” said a boy named Christian.
Each given example was rather grim, such as Axel’s, on world hunger. “I feel bad, I really feel bad about this,” he said. “They don’t have the life I have.”
“Do you think guns should be allowed? Well, I don’t,” said a gun violence video by a child named Hiroshi.
A video regarding immigration by a child named Andre stated that “immigration is a problem for everyone. They separate individuals from one another, that’s a form of injustice.”
Sharmila Kraft, assistant superintendent of educational services for the National School District, said that she believes that the students need to be supported in their causes.
“If these are the issues, these are the components that these young people will face as they become adult, then I believe it is our responsibility to support them in learning how to maneuver some of the nuances,” Kraft said.
The five-week program was founded by David Heredia, a former animator for Walt Disney Animation, Warner Bros. Animation, and DC Collectibles. Heredia has an educational video series known as “Heroes of Color,” as well as a book.
“It makes people uncomfortable when you put them in a situation to talk about something that is not their lived experience,” Heredia told CNN. “Because of that, I think it is unfair to put a muzzle on a child who wants to express what they’re feeling,” he added.
The children were rewarded for their animation projects by walking a red carpet with photographers, a backdrop of the program’s animations, and CNN cameras.
“They got to feel like celebrities as they share their animations with the world,” said CNN correspondent Camila Bernal.
Assistant Superintendent Kraft did not respond to request for comment.
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