Val Verde High School of Perris, California was recognized as the grand-prize winner of the Panasonic Kid Witness News (KWN) 2011 Global Video Contest.
KWN, a year-long, in-school video education program and competition, pitted 26 international teams against each other in a contest of video news production. The field was whittled down to six finalists representing Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, Slovakia, and the U.S. The student team from Val Verde was honored at a ceremony held this evening at the Globe Theatre at Universal Studios Hollywood for their moving public service message video “Without Me” which focuses on the need to prevent teen suicide.
KWN is a hands-on video education program designed to help children develop creativity and cognitive and communication skills through the use of video. Panasonic provides video cameras and other equipment to participating schools across the globe for their video productions. This year KWN is celebrating its 22nd anniversary. Since the program began in 1989 in the America, it has developed into a global program with 10,000 students and teachers participating each year. To date, more than 150,000 students and teachers around the world have participated in the program.
The 2011 KWN Global Contest saw participating teams craft five-minute videos based on the theme of ecology or communication. The videos were reviewed and voted on by local judges of KWN offices around the world, with the top six works nominated as finalists. In the final review, a panel of international judges including experts in film-making, education and journalism screened the works to determine the Grand Prize and category awards.
While the majority of the six finalist videos focused on environmental issues, Val Verde High School’s Grand Prize-winning video “Without Me” dealt with a serious personal issue—teen suicide. The video features a young boy on the brink of committing suicide. When he begins texting a farewell message to his parents, his cell phone suddenly talks back to him and produces images showing him the aftermath of his actions, which ultimately pulls him back from the brink and makes him realize he is valued and loved.
As Grand Prize winner, the Val Verde High School team has been invited to participate in the World Heritage Eco Learning Program which Panasonic will begin later this year. The Val Verde students will visit one of the selected World Heritage sites, which include national parks, natural wonders, and cultural and historic sites and landmarks around the world.
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