Woman using a drawing table, looking at a computer screen faced away from camera.

Kids Help Phone Workshop with Pinnguaq

August 18, 2020

15 Minutes


About the author

Pinnguaq Association, a not-for-profit organization, incorporates STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) into unique learning applications that promote storytelling, health, wellness and growth with rural and remote communities. At its core, Pinnguaq embraces diversity and creates opportunities in order to empower all people.

Kids Help Phone is Canada’s only 24/7, national support service. They offer professional counselling, information and referrals and volunteer led, text-based support to young people in both English and French. Their service is completely confidential, you don’t even have to use your first name if you wish not to.

If you, a family member, or a friend would benefit from Kids Help Phone’s services, please call 1-800-668-6868 or text CONNECT to 686868 at any time of the day or night.

On Monday August 4th, Pinnguaq and Kids Help Phone partnered to create a workshop where interns would collaborate to create an animated short video. Until the end of the week, interns would be learning and developing skills in storytelling, animation, and video creation. The video will cover topics such as:

  • What is Kids Help Phone?
  • Why would I use it?
  • How does it work?
  • Is it safe to use in terms of privacy?

Instructor, and Pinnguaq 2D artist, Ian MacLean would be helping the interns that participated in this workshop come up with ideas for a video that covers all of these topics. It’s hard to prepare for a workshop in person, but because of COVID-19, this workshop was going to have to take place online. But teaching must go on in these uncertain times, and Ian rose to meet the challenge!

Prior to the workshop, honestly, I was not optimistic. There was a massive amount of information about media that I needed participants to understand, so they could make informed, actionable contributions to the project. The timeline was crunchy and outside support was minimal, but it needed doing so I focused on developing a mix of theory and practical work time that would help reinforce those ideas.
– Ian, Pinnguaq 2D Artist

Since the start of COVID, Pinnguaq has had to shift to be completely online. While this was different from what we are used to, Ian did a fantastic job instructing students online through Google Meet. Some of the programs, such as Krita, and Pencil2D wouldn’t work, but Ian adapted and changed the program multiple times, making sure it worked for everyone

Teaching online put both myself and students at a disadvantage, in this instance. Usually, during practical portions, I’m able to move around the room and offer suggestions or answer questions. That wasn’t possible with virtual delivery. We also had a disparity of access, where some interns were unable to screen share or access certain software, so we made workarounds with pencil & paper and emailed images of their work. The one virtual tool I was quite impressed with was Google Jamboards, a virtual whiteboard that all users could contribute to simultaneously. Being able to pull in images and post text and drawings made it easier for everyone to illustrate their ideas.
– Ian, Pinnguaq 2D Artist

Two Pinnguaq employees took part in the Kids Help Phone workshop as well. Working with familiar faces was a great way for our employees to connect, after not being in the Lindsay office since March. It was a great way to help some of the participants feel not so shy when bringing up ideas for the video. The employees that work at Pinnguaq don’t always have the time to sit in on workshops and participate, but this week was a great opportunity for our employees to connect with each other in a work setting again.

“It was great to take part in the workshop, and learn some new things about storyboarding and animation. As an artist that works at Pinnguaq, I’m glad I got to take place and learn more about the subject I love most, art. I really enjoyed working alongside the interns, and it was great to take part so I can gather as much information as possible for writing about the workshop!”
– Alyssa Amell, Pinnguaq Digital Artist

“I loved the content I learned! It was really interesting to learn animation in a 4 day span on open source sites that I didn’t even know existed and being able to see the ideas come to life over the course of the week was SUPER cool.”
– Hailey Bennett, Pinnguaq Program Administrator

Fun with Digital Art

On Tuesday Ian started the workshops with a run-down of everything we’d be doing for the next 4 days. What we were going to work on, on this day, was part of the storyboarding process, writing our scripts for the video we wanted to create! Although communication as a group is different on a video call than in real life, everyone was able to express their thoughts and what their hopes for the video were. We all discussed the notes everyone made on JamBoard, and planned for what we wanted the video to look like. The interns were great at thinking in the same way a writer would, and even discussed camera angles. Ian helped build upon ideas that the interns had, and integrated all the ideas to become one big picture.

Over the next couple of days, the interns learned about storyboarding and using freeware digital art programs. Pencil2D didn’t work for everyone, so Photopea was the second best program. Here we would be drawing out our scripts, after viewing some examples of famous storyboards, such as this one from Jurassic Park.

The interns really enjoyed creating storyboards, since it helped with the visualization process of creating their scripts. This also helped the interns build upon their own ideas, which concluded into one big idea for Ian to create the final animated video.

Here are some things that the participants had to say about the workshop!

I learned how to animate and make a proper story board. I learned everything that I wanted to learn.
– Lexi, Intern in the Kids Help Phone Workshop

I really enjoyed all of it. I think my favourite part to learn was the animation aspect. I loved engaging with the other members of the group and learning together.
– Xanthe, Intern in the Kids Help Phone Workshop

I learned about how to storyboard and the programs that we used for animation and drawing. Also about the different camera angles and how the animators move their careeters was really cool!
– Anonymous, Intern in the Kids Help Phone Workshop

It was helpful towards my education in video creation.
– Zan, Intern in the Kids Help Phone Workshop 

It built up my confidence in drawing and myself!
– Raven, Intern in the Kids Help Phone Workshop

Creating a workshop that was aimed to create a video, with the main focus audience being youth, being created by youth was a great way to incorporate ideas we would never have thought about. Kids Help Phone has the stigma that you can’t call if you aren’t a youth, but this isn’t true. You can be of any age to call Kids Help Phone, and the interns thought this was something important to state in the videos. All of the people involved were great at breaking the negative stereotypes that come with mental health problems, and made a welcoming and safe environment in the Google Meets call.

Overall, the week was amazing! Although we had some technical difficulties, we hope for these to be improved upon in the future for easier online access for participants. We are excited to get another chance to create more workshops online and work with people who are just as passionate about STEAM education as we are. Pay close attention to Pinnguaq.com to check out the animated video Ian is producing for Kids Help Phone, and see what other workshops or programs that are coming up on our Events page!

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