All of us in this business, no matter what we do or where we are, share a common love of children and a reverence for the very idea of childhood.
"Anne of Green Gables" fans will recognize the classic line that inspired the title of the annual month-long KEPYR fundraiser for UNICEF refugee relief: “Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It's splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
Grant Moran, President and Founder of Kids Entertainment Professionals for Young Refugees, which has held the Kindred Spirits fundraiser in the weeks leading up to June 20, World Refugee Day, every year since 2016, says he named it that because “All of us in this business, no matter what we do or where we are, share a common love of children and a reverence for the very idea of childhood. As professionals, we're connected in that profound way.”
Moran says he was inspired to found KEPYR after seeing images of the Syrian refugee crisis on TV. As he learned more about the scope of the global refugee crisis, he knew he had to take action. He was suprised to discover that there was no organization rallying the global kids' media industry around the issue of child refugees.
For these artists, childhood is sacred. For UNICEF, childhood is sacred, as well.
So, Moran activated his network knowing that people in this business went into the profession because of their deep and emotional relationship to childhood. “For these artists, childhood is sacred,” he says. The reason why he chose to specifically support UNICEF’s relief work, he says, is that “For UNICEF, childhood is sacred as well ... They help address what’s urgently needed such as tangible aid, but also work on a macro level with local governments to address policy.”
The first couple of years, he got the word out by spreading awareness at the various conferences he attended. He would open by sharing the story of his own growth of consciousness on this issue. He could not, as he recalls, “get through my remarks without welling up.” Fellow children’s media professionals were inspired and KEPYR hosted its first fundraiser shortly after.
What Moran didn't anticipate was how his peers' involvement in supporting the cause he was so passionate about would change his own relationships with people in the business. “We never would have connected on this level,” he says. Connecting with others on the impulses that drew them to the business in the first place is “re-inspiring.”
When forced displacement causes so many millions of children to suffer so terribly, often effectively denying them their childhoods, it affects us deeply. Fred Rogers said: "We are intimately related. May we never pretend that we're not."
In the five years since the founding of KEPYR, the organization has raised over $150,000 for UNICEF by hosting their online fundraiser and various live events. In the fall of 2019, KEPYR also produced its first live fundraiser, an all-star standup comedy benefit at The Comedy Store in Los Angeles.
“When forced displacement causes so many millions of children to suffer so terribly, often effectively denying them their childhoods, it affects us deeply,” Moran notes. “Fred Rogers said: 'We are intimately related. May we never even pretend that we are not.' " Kindred Spirits is a way of translating that truth into positive action.
Ready to show your support for this year’s Kindred Spirits fundraiser on behalf of UNICEF’s refugee relief work? Click here to donate now!
Top photo: In the town of Castoria, Greece, circa 1950, a young refugee holds a folded UNICEF-supplied blanket in one hand and clutches his mother's skirt with the other. © UNICEF/UN041852/UNICEF@70