Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Animax’ Designs’ New Zealand friends at Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop have been working from home on a way to give back to their local community and families around the world during these trying times.
Pukeko Pictures recently launched an online platform leveraging their award-winning children’s series “Kiddets” to aid parents in helping their children gain an age-appropriate perspective on the global pandemic. The platform features a free children’s read-along picture book, at-home teaching resources, and much more. Martin Baynton, writer and illustrator for Stay Clear, Stay Clean, Stay Kind is a 20-year veteran in writing and illustrating children’s books on topics of not only global pandemics, but also domestic violence, and other hard to discuss topics.
“The children’s books I have written and illustrated for nearly 20 years possess a central theme of communicating difficult ideas to children. As the COVID-19 pandemic developed, I had this sense of urgency to create something to help children better understand what was happening in their world and the world around them,” said Martin. “In the space of a week, Stay Clear, Stay Clean, Stay Kind was created to not only help children develop understanding but to help facilitate a larger conversation with children and their families about the pandemic,” Martin added.
Richard Taylor of Weta Workshop, co-partner of Pukeko Pictures and the “Kiddets” series, initially had the idea to utilize their Workshop’s vast skillset to produce personal protective equipment (PPE) in the fight against COVID-19. They soon realized that the New Zealand government was more than capable of providing enough PPE and found another way to give back creatively and uniquely:
“We began prototyping face shields, protective smocks, and masks. We also enthusiastically started designing filtered air-breathing helmets much like the ones used in movies such as ‘Avatar’ that we had worked on. We had everything needed to produce some of these, but we quickly discovered that PPE was more than supplied for by our Government here in New Zealand. We were understandably thrilled when our friend and partner, Martin Baynton at Pukeko Pictures, presented the idea of doing the Kiddets initiative,” said Richard.
He went on to add, “Where we didn’t succeed in trying to manufacture PPE, Martin has found an equally meaningful way to touch the hearts of children and families around the world with our ‘Kiddets’ message of Stay Clear, Stay Clean, Stay Kind. The response to our book from parents and caregivers has been heartwarming and we are very thankful for the efforts given by Chuck and his colleagues at Animax for their enthusiastic support and immediate efforts to help get the word out.”
While developing some urgently needed PPE for the State of Tennessee, Animax realized that the “adult-sized” masks they were producing were too large to properly protect children. With a scaled-down design in hand, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to collaborate with Pukeko Pictures and Weta Workshop. “When I first saw this book, I loved it,” said Chuck Fawcett, President and CEO of Animax Designs. “As our Animax families and their kids have continued to enjoy it, we started thinking about how our team here could combine our own PPE manufacturing efforts with the message of this very important book that Martin had created,” Chuck added. After a few phone calls with the Pukeko Pictures team, Animax took their scaled-down mask designs and have now begun production on prototypes for a children’s facemask featuring artwork from the “Kiddets” series. The Pukeko and Animax teams are quite excited about the idea of adding another layer of fun to this amazing story. “Ultimately our hope would be for children around the world to make a meaningful connection to their favorite “Kiddets” character while keeping themselves CLEAR, CLEAN, and KIND”, said Martin.
Children around the globe are witnessing at a very young age an unprecedented global pandemic. Many parents are now forced to work from home or are not able to work at all while their children attend school via webcam and are not able to play with their friends due to social distancing. This pandemic raises questions not only for parents but for their children too.
In an effort to help answer these questions and to provide a way for children to shape a better understanding of what is going on in their world, Pukeko Pictures has created an online children’s resource based on their “Kiddets” series to help educate children about the current crisis in a fun and creative way.
The “Kiddets” brand is centered around helping young children develop a better understanding of the world around them. Series creators Martin Baynton (above right) and Richard Taylor (left) saw the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to continue their mission but now with an additional theme – Stay Clear, Stay Clean, Stay Kind.
This online resource features a free children’s picture book, at-home teaching resources for parents, and more. The Kiddets are loved by millions of children around the world and all material on the site has been made available in English, Te Reo, Maori, French, Italian, and Spanish with other languages coming soon to support parents and children worldwide.