This Renny Run idea began way back when I tried to create a movement. Think about that, I thought I could actually do that. Together with a gifted team of professionals, art students, teachers, community organizers, and 'tweens, we developed a web series, comic books, a mural, community gatherings, t-shirts, buttons, conversations, all around the theme of helping kids help themselves with the challenges of growing up.
The entire project was centered around seeing the world through the eyes of a ten-year-old—that grand world that was simultaneously curious, dangerous, funny, scary, and silly all at the same time. This project, entitled Block by Block, dealt with some serious issues like bullying as experienced and dealt with by the the young people themselves. We asked hundreds of 3rd and 4th graders about their lives, what they saw and heard, asked them how they would handle difficult situations in school, or at home, and to express that through art and media. Rather than just telling them what to do, I wanted to give them a voice and help adults understand how their little ones handle difficult situations when they are not around.
Block by Block had early success, but ultimately failed because projects like this require money, and unfortunately, I was unable to raise the necessary funds. The reason? Fear. Better yet, lack of courage. Not my fear, nor my lack of courage, and more importantly, not the youngster's fear or lack of courage, but adult fears, fears that clouded the facts: the hundreds of kids we interviewed basically handed us the story-lines for the project from their own experiences, their own lives. So many of the funders were afraid to take on this subject matter even though it was brilliant.
Check out this short documentary we made with a group of 4th graders who created a giant mural depicting how they would deal with a bully at www.yaamworks.com. You’ll be amazed and might even cry a little.
Fear, as we know, is a necessary part of life especially the fear we have for our children like when we catch them doing something ridiculous and dangerous like riding their bicycle off the garage roof into the swimming pool. Yes, my brother did this. Born of the best intentions, fear is part of survival, that is, until it evolves into a life-long lack of courage; the fear of trying new things, the fear of being ourselves, the fear of using our voices even when what we are saying may be unpopular, the fear of facing the truth.
Renny Run is here is a result of www.yaamworks.com, and serves as a reminder that there is a line between good fear and bad fear or lack of courage, that so many of us are brave. It is here to help young people channel that curious energy into an aspiring place by fanning the flames of their imaginations, and supporting their daydreams no matter how often they change.