press release: TVOKids launches Season II of Pillars of Freedom

By Mike Valiquette
Ocotber 5, 2011
Season 2 Launch of Pillars of Freedom on TVOKids
How hard is it to govern? Season 2 tackles the question for kids.
Unique Multi-Platform Series Introduces Youngsters to Principles of
Democracy, Freedom and Voting
Season 2 Premieres Monday, October 10th at 5:55 PM (ET) in The Space
Toronto, ON [October 6, 2011] — TVOKids launches Season 2 of the unique multi-platform series, Pillars of Freedom, with entertainment-driven lessons in the principles of democracy, freedom and voting aimed at kids between the ages of six and nine years of age. The choose-your-own-ending animated TV series/web production picks-up from last season when “Hudley”, one of two candidates for the Mayor of Moltonia, won on a platform of change.

In Season 2, viewers will be able to hold “Mayor Hudley” to her election promises by voting online. Season 2 of Pillars of Freedom premieres Monday, October 10th at 5:55 PM (ET) in The Space and airs every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Pillars of Freedom is produced by Smiley Guy Studios Inc. and Nexus Media Inc. for TVO.

During Season 1 of Pillars of Freedom, youngsters cast over 100,000 unique votes for the story ending of their choice at http://www.tvokids.com/games/pillarsfreedom, demonstrating that given the right context even young children can be introduced to democratic concepts. That lesson was brought home during the run-up to today’s Ontario provincial election with TVOKids running a mock election featuring characters from the series.
“Instilling the importance of participation and choice at a young age is critical if we want to improve voter turn-out among youth,” says Jonas Diamond, Executive Producer of Pillars of Freedom and Smiley Guy Studios.
Pillars of Freedom Season 2 kicks-off with “Mayor Hudley” questioning whether her pledge to let Moltonia’s dragons fly free was a good decision. The remaining episodes deal with Hudley and her young assistants – Spirit and Imm – trying to govern the large city of Moltonia while keeping everyone relatively happy.
The 10-episode animated comedy-adventure series provides a unique interactive experience for young viewers who play a key role in determining the outcome of each episode.  Viewers are presented with three alternative endings and invited to vote online for the finale of their choice. The episode is then re-played with the winning ending. Each episode airs over a two week period with voting taking place in week one and the winning ending aired in week two.
With close to 50,000 registered users, the interactive website site is one of tvokids.com’s most popular destinations. In addition to being a ratings success for the public broadcaster, Pillars of Freedom has been a critical success as well, garnering a 2010 Gemini nomination in the category of Best Children’s or Youth Fiction Program or Series.
“It took a broadcaster like TVO to understand the value of introducing topics such as democracy, freedom and voting to a young audience,” says Don Duchene, Producer, Nexus Media. “Pillars of Freedom is one more example of how entertainment and education can be blended to create a meaningful experience for a young audience. Kids really are a lot smarter than we give them credit for!”
Funding for Pillars of Freedom came from Bell Broadcast and New Media Fund, Rocket Fund, Ontario Interactive Digital Media Fund and Canada Media Fund.
About Smiley Guy Studioshttp://www.smileyguy.com
Smiley Guy Studios is an award-winning full-service production company with expertise in animation, design, writing, sound, music, and interactive media. Founded in 1998 by graduates of Norman Jewison’s Canadian Film Centre, SGS has since grown in size and capability, with expertise in vector-based animation, computer-generated imagery and multi-platform production. It produces its own original content while also collaborating with clients on a variety of animated TV, film and new media projects.
About Nexus Mediahttp://www.nexusmedia.ca
Based in Chester Nova Scotia, and created by Canadian media authority Don Duchene, Nexus Media Inc. has enjoyed over 10 years of producing international documentaries, developing children’s television programs and exploring new forms of media, with the common goal to make productions that can affect positive change. NMI’s projects include helping young people in the First Nations community of Eskasoni develop their own production capacity, and the independently produced short, “A Child’s Guide to Government”, which sparked the concept behind Pillars of Freedom over 10 years ago. NMI just released “Exporting Democracy”, filmed in Tanzania, Indonesia and Ukraine and aired on Vision TV, SCN and iChannel.  Nexus is now developing “No Easy Ride: the Future of Democracy” for iChannel.
About TVOhttp://www.tvo.org
TVO is Ontario’s public educational media organization and a trusted source of interactive educational content that informs, inspires and stimulates curiosity and thought. TVO’s vision is to empower people to be engaged citizens of Ontario through educational media. TVO is funded primarily by the Province of Ontario and supported by sponsors and thousands of donors.

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