The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has provided WUCF TV with $250,000 to support the station’s Meet the Helpers project and make it a national model to improve crisis communication with children.
Meet the Helpers is a multiplatform project for teaching children about firefighters, police officers, teachers and other community helpers so the children can be better prepared in emergency situations. The series of videos introduces eight helpers in the community and was created as part of the outreach of WUCF, Central Florida’s PBS station, after the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting.
This new funding will focus on emergency preparedness, youth stress and anxiety, and crisis communications to determine if videos can be used to help children understand helpers’ roles during an emergency and prepare children to react helpfully. The research will be conducted in partnership with UCF’s College of Community Innovation and Education and the Nicholson School of Communication and Media.
The research will be conducted in partnership with UCF’s College of Community Innovation and Education and the Nicholson School of Communication and Media.
Meet the Helpers was developed by WUCF and advised by Judith Levin ’86MEd, associate lecturer and program coordinator for Early Childhood Development Education.
The upcoming research will be conducted in two phases. Nicholson Professors Deanna and Timothy Sellnow will conduct a local study to determine how crisis communications can be effective with childhood audiences.
Levin, Professors Debbie Hahs-Vaughn and Bingbing Zhang ’18PhD and Assistant Professor Viki Kelchner of CCIE then will conduct a national research project on youth stress and anxiety. The team will train WUCF and eight other public television stations to collect data from their audiences to determine the impact that public media could have on decreasing youth anxiety and stress during emergencies.
Other stations around the country are invited to apply to be part of the pilot project and will receive $10,000 if selected. CET in Cincinnati, Vegas PBS in Las Vegas, and WFSU in Tallahassee, Florida, have already joined the project.
Meet the Helpers will be shown at the other stations in order to determine the programs’ effectiveness, with the goal to make additional community-helper videos. In addition to the videos already mentioned, the other helpers featured so far are: emergency room doctor, meteorologist, paramedic, line worker and a 911 operator.
“We are proud to help extend this research effort and look forward to extending this project to all public media across the U.S.,” says Phil Hoffman, WUCF executive director. “We believe that … we can contribute valuable research on how public media stations across the country can educate children year round about community helpers and be better prepared in a time of crisis.”