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HomeArts & EntertainmentNext Gen launches 'Human Cinema Series' to address student mental health concerns

Next Gen launches ‘Human[kind] Cinema Series’ to address student mental health concerns

The series, designed for, and by educators, will meet social and emotional learning competencies as teens self-report feelings of hopelessness

BAY HARBOR – New data from the CDC shows that more than a third of high school students report indicators of poor mental health.

The Great Lakes Center for the Arts created the Human[kind] Cinema Series, part of its Next Gen education and outreach effort, to provide programming and learning materials to support students’ emotional needs.

This is of particular importance as young people grapple with the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, December 9, hundreds of local students from four school districts and regional homeschool families will gather at the Great Lakes Center for the Arts to experience The Book Thief, the first inaugural film in the series.

The series will target two of Michigan’s five Social and Emotional Learning Competencies: Social Awareness and Relationship Skills. Educators have free access to learning materials to encourage thought-provoking discussions.

“School connectedness is key to improving student well-being,” said Next Gen Director and educational psychologist Dr. Rachel Sytsma-Reed. “Watching the film on the Center’s big screen will be a shared experience between hundreds of students that will underscore their connectedness. When we experience the story together, the lessons from the film will be shared by all of us and will open doors for us to explore ourselves.”

The free event sold out in three hours, faster than any other Next Gen program. Several local educators expressed appreciation for an event that covers emotional learning, something they can struggle to cover adequately in their classrooms.

“I am 100% behind Next Gen in needing to get social and emotional learning into schools and increasing discussion and support for our students,” said one local educator, via email.

Next Gen is excited to announce that it has received a grant from the Charlevoix County Community Fund Youth Advisory Committee to show Hidden Figures in 2023.

The financial support will help Next Gen develop the series’ potential for helping create healthier school climates.

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