Kids round-up: Execs call for Ukraine support; Paper Owl opens doors to autistic animators; WarnerMedia & Sesame Workshop expand partnership

Children’s execs call for Ukraine support

US-based volunteer organisation KEPYR (Kids Entertainment Professionals for Young Refugees) is calling on the children’s media industry to help support the more than 1.5 million children and their families displaced by the war in Ukraine.

Founded by industry professionals in 2017, KEPYR seeks to spread awareness in the children’s media community about the global child refugee crisis and to rally support for UNICEF’s work serving displaced children around the world.

Donations to KEPYR’s Emergency Ukraine Refugee Relief Drive can be made at

The drive is in support of UNICEF, which has launched an emergency appeal to raise the $276m required to sufficiently scale up relief efforts across Ukraine. In addition, UNICEF is also appealing for another $73m to assist those fleeing to Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia, Hungary and elsewhere.

UNICEF and partners are working to meet rapidly escalating humanitarian needs, including emergency medical services, critical medicines, health supplies and equipment, safe water for drinking and hygiene, and shelter and protection for children and families displaced from their homes.

“The situation is dire, the humanitarian need growing daily. The suffering, shock, and trauma is almost unimaginable,” said Grant Moran, president and founder of KEPYR. “Luckily, thanks to organizations like UNICEF USA, we can take action.

“Acting together, we can make an immediate, concrete difference and be a force of light against the terrible darkness these vulnerable children and their families are living through right now. We encourage everyone in the children’s media community to give generously.”


Paper Owl opens doors to autistic animators

Paper Owl Films – creators of CBeebies series Pablo – is launching the industry’s first annual work placement scheme specifically aimed at aspiring animators who are on the autistic spectrum.

Launching as the ‘Pablo Academy’, the scheme is open to any neurodivergent person over 18 years in the UK and reflects Paper Owl Films’ commitment to improving diversity in the industry.

The scheme stems from the company’s experience working with autistic talent on two series of Pablo and a growing recognition that neurodiverse minds, although currently under-represented, offer a unique and highly creative approach to animation.

Paper Owl Films’ aim is to change this situation and it has timed the Pablo Academy’s launch to coincide with World Autism Acceptance Day on 2 April.

Two suitable candidates will be offered six-week placements in May/June this year, working alongside production teams either at the company’s HQ in Belfast or remotely. The placements will be unpaid, but support will be given for expenses where applicable.

The recruitment process – often a barrier for many autistic people applying for jobs in any industry – has been designed to be as accessible as possible with a How to Apply session on Zoom (recorded and transcripted) and a simple application form.

Paper Owl Films has also partnered with Specialisterne – an international organisation providing guidance on ensuring equal opportunities within the labour market – to ensure each candidate gets the most out of their placement and that the company’s processes and systems are fully accessible to individual needs.

Paper Owl Films is also guaranteeing each candidate who completes their six-week placement a job interview for an animation role on a broadcast production within 18 months of graduation.

Gavin Halpin, MD of Paper Owl Films, commented: “Paper Owl Films celebrates all kinds of minds. We value neurodivergent talent and we want to attract it to our industry. The Pablo Academy is designed to make that first step – obtaining vital work experience – more accessible so we find and unlock people’s creativity which until now may have been suppressed due to barriers to entry.”

WarnerMedia & Sesame Workshop expand partnership

WarnerMedia Kids & Family and Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organisation behind Sesame Street, are expanding their partnership with a number of new originals for the Cartoonito preschool programming block.

The first series from this expansion, Sesame Street Mecha Builders, will debut on HBO Max and Cartoon Network in early May.More animated series and specials, including newly greenlit family miniseries Charlotte’s Web, upcoming pre-school shows Bea’s Block and a Sesame Street-themed reimagining of The Nutcracker, are also set to debut this year.

Sesame Street Mecha Builders reimagines Elmo, Cookie Monster, and Abby Cadabby as robot heroes in training who use their STEM superpowers to solve wacky larger-than-life problems.

“Our relationship with Sesame Workshop is critical in ensuring that we have an ongoing lineup of content that parents find unquestionably safe, educational, and entertaining for their kids to enjoy,” said Tom Ascheim, president, Warner Bros. global kids, young adults and classics.

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