Behind the Scenes in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Written by Keith Varnum

Do . . . you . . . know . . . why . . . Mr. . . . Rogers . . . of . . . Mr. . . . Rogers' . . . Neighbor . . . hood . . . TV . . . show . . . talks . . . so . . . very . . . slowly . . . and . . . very . . . clearly . . . and . . . uses . . . little . . . tiny . . . words?

During my college years, I hadrepparttar privilege of working onrepparttar 132538 " Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" show for WQED Public TV in Pittsburgh. As an intern, I assisted withrepparttar 132539 props and sets. One day while on a break from shooting, I asked Fred Rogers why he talked in such a leisurely, piecemeal way. What he shared with me, as well as what I observed being with him, gave me a fresh appreciation of commitment, compassion and integrity.

"Children understand us when we talk plainly and honestly to them," explained Mr. Rogers. "I talk very simply to children because I want to communicate with them as young as possible. Even before children understandrepparttar 132540 intellectual definition of words, they absorb meaning fromrepparttar 132541 vibration of each spoken word,repparttar 132542 energy ofrepparttar 132543 intention ofrepparttar 132544 communication, andrepparttar 132545 feelings ofrepparttar 132546 people speaking."

This champion of children has been speaking torepparttar 132547 hearts and spirits of youngsters sincerepparttar 132548 beginning of commercial broadcast communication. Before television was born, Mr. Rogers was onrepparttar 132549 first radio station inrepparttar 132550 world, KDKA in Pittsburgh, with "The Children's Hour." His program later developed into "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" on public television. Now his slow-talking children's show is on hundreds of television stations inrepparttar 132551 United States and in scores of other countries.

Fred Rogers relates to children naturally and intimately. He speaks from his heart directly into their souls. And they intensely love him in return. The depth to which Mr. Rogers touches children reveals itself when kids from aroundrepparttar 132552 country come to visitrepparttar 132553 television studio. Often I watched frightened children timidly step intorepparttar 132554 huge studio, closely hugging their parents, holding onto a leg or an arm. For a child, a TV studio is an intimidating room full of wires, cables, monitors, bright lights and scores of big people running around yelling orders at each other. Peering through this scary mass of adults, cameras and props, kids would catch a glimpse of Mr. Rogers onrepparttar 132555 far side ofrepparttar 132556 set. Overwhelmed with raw enthusiasm, they'd tear free from their parents, climb overrepparttar 132557 cables, weave past allrepparttar 132558 equipment and jump joyously into Fred' s outstretched arms.

Somehow, Mr. Rogers always knew when a child was coming and would drop whatever he was doing to be ready to embrace them. Many times I saw kids leap several feet before reaching him, confident their loving hero would catch them once they reached his waist or chest. And Fred would always snag them-gently, reverently. Those children held onto him so tightly. Crying with delight,repparttar 132559 kids would tell him repeatedly how much they loved him. Touching, holding and hugging this gentle, caring person- who had affected them so poignantly overrepparttar 132560 airwaves-wasrepparttar 132561 thrill of their lives.

Often, after a short while, some parents became visibly jealous ofrepparttar 132562 strong, open affection between their kids andrepparttar 132563 show's genial host. Usually, Mr. Rogers perceivedrepparttar 132564 emotions emanating from Mom and Dad, and graciously returnedrepparttar 132565 child torepparttar 132566 envious parents. However, when Fred missed his cue, parents would physically rip their child away from his embrace, making up some excuse about having to leave.

"Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" has a very distinct purpose in addition to entertainment. In every episode ofrepparttar 132567 show, Fred weaves a consistent connection of cooperation, caring, fairness, generosity, honesty, mutuality, trust, openness, spontaneity, courage and harmony between himself andrepparttar 132568 show's characters. These qualities arerepparttar 132569 spiritual principles by which Fred Rogers lives and expresses himself consistently in word, feeling and action on his program and in his private life. He realizes parents may be lacking in some values or may not be available enough to instill these qualities in their children. Fred uses his interactions withrepparttar 132570 show's puppet and human characters to introduce and demonstrate these values to kids as early in their lives as possible. Then, when children are older and their world expands beyond their home to adults and other kids, they have a solid spiritual and social foundation to draw upon.

Adroitly, Mr. Rogers never lectures his audience, but rather relies on his regular cast of puppet people and animals to present and implant caring concepts through playful adventures. When Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles in 1968, Mr. Rogers noticed most television stations were showing people grieving and wearing solemn dark clothes. In addition, radio outlets were broadcasting very doleful music befitting a nation in mourning. As an adult, he understood this somberness isrepparttar 132571 primary way our culture deals with death. However, he was concerned aboutrepparttar 132572 effect this perspective on death was having on children. Fred feared thatrepparttar 132573 extreme national outpouring of grief and despair was sending a very one-sided, negative message to kids concerning death-one of overwhelming sadness, fear, abandonment and confusion. In order to present an alternative torepparttar 132574 nation's morose and bleak cultural perception of mortality, Mr. Rogers engagedrepparttar 132575 magic of his puppets.

What a great timerepparttar 132576 puppets were having playing with balloons! The puppets bounced and played catch withrepparttar 132577 balloons untilrepparttar 132578 balloons became their friends. The puppets became such intimate friends withrepparttar 132579 balloons, they gave them personal names. Then, inrepparttar 132580 frolic and spontaneity of play, one by onerepparttar 132581 balloons were punctured. Some balloons deflated quickly. Others lost their air more slowly. Becauserepparttar 132582 puppets were losing some of their balloon friends, they were sad. All they had left of their friends were limp, lifeless pieces of rubber. Afraid and confused,repparttar 132583 puppets went to Wise Owl and asked him what was happening to their balloon buddies.

No longer the Raj

Written by Holmes Charnley

I note with interest, that over in Basildon, a shop has opened that caters for people with dark skin. Enough ofrepparttar euphemisms. Afro-Caribbean. These ladies from Essex no longer need to trek into London to find suitable cosmetics.

Over atrepparttar 132535 shop, partner Sharon Peters, whose family was originally from St Lucia said, "Black skin has a different texture from white skin, it contains lots of a melanin, and therefore everyday beauty products are too greasy for us. Black people, obviously, have thicker, curlier hair, which requires special treatment, with specific products."

This story made me smile. Recently, sweetheart was inrepparttar 132536 front garden when she heard a voice say, "It's because ofrepparttar 132537 Brazilians, you know." Conspiratorially, like.

Well, sweetheart looked round, trying to sort out if this was becoming some form of a biblical happening. Eventually, however,repparttar 132538 grey hair and disturbed face of our elderly next~door neighbour poked out and explained thatrepparttar 132539 house downrepparttar 132540 road, though it had been onrepparttar 132541 market for ages, wouldn't sell because ofrepparttar 132542 occupants from South America, who lived opposite. They smelt, she said. And they hadrepparttar 132543 wrong sort of curtains. (This is all true, I kid you not.)

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