The 21st Show

Student Claymation Film ‘Estrella: An Asylum Seeker’s Story’; Active Shooter Drills In Schools; Children Weight-Loss App Backlash


Seventh grade students at Central School in Kewanee, Illinois, work on claymation film "Estrella: An Asylum Seeker’s Story." Photo courtesy of Mark Nelson

A group of middle schoolers in Kewanee have made a claymation film for their art class. It follows 10-year-old asylum seeker Estrella on her way from El Salvador to the U.S. Plus, beginning this school year, Illinois students will be required to participate in active shooter drills. But some parents worry the drills may do more harm than good. And, last month, Weight Watchers released a weight loss app targeted at kids as young as eight years old. It caused a public outcry. We’ll discuss how we should talk about health and food with kids.

Student Claymation Film 'Estrella: An Asylum Seeker’s Story'

The new film Estrella: An Asylum Seeker’s Story is a 17-minute claymation movie created by seventh grade students at Central School in Kewanee, Illinois.

When her father is killed in El Salvador after witnessing gang violence, 10-year-old Estrella, her mother and her younger brother are forced to quickly flee to America and seek legal asylum. 

Although the movie follows Estrella’s fictional journey, some of the students in the Kewanee community and who were in Marc Nelson’s 7th grade art class have their own versions of this story. 

Marc Nelson joined us along with Chloie Miller and Laryn Conley, two of the students behind this film. They’re in eighth grade now at Kewanee Central School.

Active Shooter Drills In Schools

Since 2013, Illinois school staff have had to participate in active shooter drills. But a new law that took effect this school year requires that students participate, too. In the last two years, eight states, including Illinois, either passed or updated laws that require these drills.

The lead sponsor of the Illinois bill, State Senator Julie Morrison, said that this rule is meant to make sure every child gets “the same level of safety.”

But, some parents are worried about whether these types of drills could actually do more harm than good.

Dianne Gordon is the mother of 7-year-old daughter Rory, who was anxious after a hard lockdown drill at her school last year.  

Melissa Brymer is program director at the National Child Traumatic Stress Network at UCLA. Dr. David Rettew is a child psychiatrist and associate professor at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine.

Children Weight-Loss App Backlash

Weight Watchers — now technically known as "WW" — is one of the largest weight loss programs in the country. In 2018 alone they took in $1.5 billion. And now, they’ve expanded their market to include children. 
Last month, Weight Watchers released an app called Kurbo. It’s targeted at kids as young as eight years old, and it allows them to track the foods they eat and categorize them using something called the traffic light system. 

But this app has led to public backlash. The National Eating Disorder Association, for example, said that it could contribute to a “potential lifetime of weight cycling and poor body image.” 

Representatives for Weight Watchers have said the app is meant to be fun and is “not leading to any eating disorders or anything that approximates eating-disorder thinking.” 

So how should we be talking about food and health with children? 

Lauren Rankin is a freelance writer based in New York. She recently wrote a piece for Teen Vogue about the Kurbo app. Danielle Doucette is a licensed clinical psychologist at Midwest Counseling and Diagnostics in Chicago.

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