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How Meditation and Martial Arts Help Youth Navigate Challenges

Creators David Friedman and Philip Kholos continue the adventure of Koga, a boy who uses meditation, yoga, and kung fu to navigate life’s challenges in Koga and Friends:ShelterThe film was  selected for Best of the Fest 2021 by KIDS FIRST! in association with the Planet Classroom Network. 

In this episode of the Koga series, Koga teaches his friends how to use breathing and kung fu poses to feel brave when scared, and he connects to animals at a shelter through yoga. The techniques that utilize yoga, karate and meditation are explained to youth audiences with original music from Disney composer David Freidman (credits include  Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,  Grease,  Beauty and The Beast, Pocahontas, Aladdin, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame).  Kholos has over 23 years of yoga and meditation experience, and currently teaches Conductors Meditation which combines mindfulness exercises with musical metaphors.

The Global Search for Education is pleased to welcome Philip Kholos.

We love Koga and Friends.  What inspired this particular story in the series and why do you think it will appeal to today’s youth audiences today? 

I was inspired to create Koga and Friends because I’ve been practicing yoga and meditation for over 20 years and realized how much I would have benefitted from a mind/body education as a child. Kids can easily absorb the emotional tension radiating from the world around them. I wanted to create an entertaining show that would help kids learn how to disconnect from that tension, and instead connect with a sense of mental clarity and emotional harmony.

I believe that the Koga and Friends shows provide a really effective outlet for kids to learn about certain issues and subjects. How do you believe the COVID-19 pandemic could be approached on such a program?  Have you thought about addressing some of the issues kids have faced in the pandemic?  If so, what kinds of themes and topics do you think media makers should focus on?

In the “Shelter” episode, Lily needs to get stitches and is feeling very scared, so Koga teaches her a yoga exercise to help her calm down and relax into the stiches. We felt that this scene could be helpful to a lot of kids who are nervous about getting their shots. Later in the episode, the gang goes to an animal shelter and Rosa adopts a canine friend. During the pandemic many families have adopted animals, which has added a lot of joy to their isolated family environments. We hoped that this episode would inspire more people to adopt animals who are all alone and yearning for a family.

What are some of the other themes and topics you think are important for young audiences right now?  Are there any that you are currently working on?

In an upcoming episode, the gang visits a painter who teaches them about the harmony of colors, and how our emotions can be like different colors. If we can balance the colors of our emotions, we can be more in harmony with those around us. In a different episode, the gang visits a symphony conductor who teaches them how trees, plants and flowers work together, like parts of a symphony, to create beauty in the world.

Who inspires you in the youth media creation space?  Who are your role models, past or present?

My main inspiration came from shows like Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street, because I remember the calm and positivity I felt whenever I watched those shows. I still remember a lot of the lessons taught in those shows, and strongly believe that their messages of respect, tolerance and inclusivity are all strongly relevant to today’s world.

C.M. Rubin and Philip Kholus

Don’t Miss Koga and Friends: Shelternow screening on the Planet Classroom Network.  The film was selected for Best of the Fest 2021 by KIDS FIRST! in association with the Planet Classroom Network.