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It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s a Town Hall’s Aspiring Superheroes!

17/05/2011 BY CHRISTL DABU
They want to take action and be the “superman” they’ve been waiting for — now.

Inspired by the groundbreaking documentary that flagged the public school crisis, a packed town hall of 300 educators, students, politicians and parents in Honolulu was among a series of forums across the U.S. that was part of the social action campaign for the Waiting for ‘Superman’ documentary. The forums were organized by Participant Media, the L.A.-based entertainment company behind the film.

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie poses with Maya Soetoro-Ng (second from left) and organizers in the green room before a Honolulu town hall on improving schools on May 4, 2011. PHOTO BY CHRISTL DABU


Maya’s Message Maya Soetoro-Ng, Our Public School co-founder and board member and U.S. President Barack Obama’s younger sister, was a special speaker at the event. The event’s significance reminded her of an incident with her family two years ago. She tells the crowd the story of her daughter Suhaila, then four, who often loved washing dishes “because she was a big girl.” One night, the mother of two heard a “large crash, a bang and a boom” and found a sick Suhaila curled up into a ball on the living room couch watching TV instead of washing dishes. All over their living room and kitchen were shards of porcelain and glass — after the cabinets in their kitchen had fallen over completely. Among the debris were her late mother’s wedding china and teapots that had been collected by her husband’s family. Though so much of value was destroyed, what remained was Suhaila’s Eeyore cup. “I felt flooded with sadness for like five seconds and then I realized, you know what? She was sick and on the couch which means she was not under the cabinets when they fell, which means she was alive and well, relatively speaking, and had just some nastiness in the nose,” she told the crowd at Kapiolani Community College. “And it took us like five hours to right the kitchen but I never mourned what was lost.” As she had never used the precious china and teapots for fear of ruining them, she recognized she didn’t really need them. “So what I would like us to think about, is that somehow with all of those shards, the old shapes have been lost, but we can rediscover some new shapes, we can put the pieces together in new ways, we can be inventive, and what we have to do and what we have to do tonight is take that first step,” she says. ” We have so many wonderful partners, so many opportunities to take next steps. “Regardless of whether we have children in the public schools, these are our schools, and we need to begin taking those next steps,” she continues. “And then we need to stay committed to the process of working together. So let’s make sure that what we’re building is a sense of optimism, possibility, that we can make a difference, a sense of consistent and persistent responsibility that moves well beyond this night and into the future.” She encourages others to think about public schools differently. “These are our schools. And we need to shift the paradigm,” she says. “And we need everyone to see how they can contribute, make a difference, offer resources, offer support for the teachers, offer your stories, offer your past, your hands and let’s do some stuff, let’s take some action.”   http://www.ourkids.net/blog/honolulu-town-hall-aspiring-superheroes-10162/

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Participant MediaAbout Participant Media

Founded in 2004 by Jeff Skoll, Participant Media’s (www.participantmedia.com) content combines the power of a good story well told with opportunities for real world impact and awareness around the most pressing global issues of our time. As an industry content leader, Participant annually produces up to six narrative feature films, five documentary films, three episodic television series, and more than 40 hours of digital short form programming, through its digital subsidiary SoulPancake—all aimed at entertainment that inspires social awareness and engaging audiences to participate in positive social change. Participant’s content and social impact mandate speaks directly to the rise of today’s “conscious consumer,” representing over 2 billion consumers who are compelled to make impactful content a priority focus. Through its worldwide network of traditional and digital distribution, aligned with partnerships with key non-profit and NGO organizations, Participant is positioned uniquely within the industry to engage a rapidly growing audience while bringing global awareness and action to today’s most vital issues.

Participant’s more than 80 films, including Spotlight, Contagion, Lincoln, The Help, He Named Me Malala, The Look of Silence, CITIZENFOUR, Food, Inc. and An Inconvenient Truth, have collectively earned 56 Academy Award® nominations and 12 wins, including Best Picture for Spotlight and Best Foreign Language Film for A Fantastic Woman. Participant’s digital entertainment division, SoulPancake (www.soulpancake.com), is an award-winning provider of thought-provoking, joyful, and uplifting digital content including such widely popular series as Kid President and The Science of Happiness and reaches an audience of nearly 9 million fans. Follow Participant Media on Twitter and on Facebook and Instagram. Follow SoulPancake on Twitter and on Facebook and Instagram.