In the current political climate, the need for inclusionary, positive, and fact-based education for children is more important than ever. Thankfully, Olly Pike, with his channel Pop’n’Olly, fills this need perfectly.
On Olly’s channel, you will find videos including Prince Henry – A Gay Fairytale for Children, Jamie – A Transgender Cinderella Story, and Princess Penny and the Pea, teaching children what it means to be different. Whether it’s sexual orientation, race, disability, or any other diversity, the videos explore subjects and educate children in a fun, easy to understand, and age-appropriate way.
When people watch his videos, Olly wants them to take away the message that it is important “to be kind, to be accepting, but also to stand up for your own and other people’s rights. We all have a right to be respected and to not live in fear.”
Olly understands firsthand how important education like this is, and how it can change the lives of children everywhere. “I knew I was different as a child, although I wasn’t sure why, and at times I felt lonely,” he recalls. “I even remember thinking there was something wrong with me. I think it’s important to let children know that no matter who you are, whether you are the same or different from others, we are all valid and we don’t need to change. We are all equal.”
Even today, there is still so much stigma surrounding LGBTQ+ content for children, which is particularly frustrating especially given how age-appropriate Olly’s videos are. “I think some people can’t separate LGBTQIA+ [identities] from sex,” Olly observes. “I think people think we are teaching children about actual sex… that is the last thing we are doing.
“We need to teach children about acceptance and kindness, as qualities such as these are just as important as subjects such as English and Maths,” he continues. “All children should be aware of diversity, as they will no doubt experience different types of people in their lives. Children should be allowed to learn that it’s okay to be different, and that everyone has the right to be respected and treated fairly.”
All you have to do is look at the comments in his videos to see the life-changing difference videos like this are making to people and their lives. People cite how they have used the video Prince Henry – A Gay Fairytale for Children to talk to their children and other family members about LGBTQIA+ topics, and several commenters admit that they have been reduced to a sobbing emotional mess over the adorableness of videos like The Ice Queen and her Wife, despite being several years older than the intended age range!
As well as making videos, Olly often works with schools, leading diversity workshops in which his videos or books are shown and discussed. The reactions that the children have are not only amusing but also truly demonstrate how discrimination is not innate but learned. “The children are more interested in things like how old the characters are and how many horses they have than the fact that the story depicts a same-sex relationship. I think that just highlights how accepting children are,” says Olly.
“My proudest moment is when I get sent/tweeted photos of classrooms, assemblies full of children watching my videos or reading my books,” he adds. “That’s such an incredible feeling: to see how many children I’m reaching with my work and hopefully making the future world a little more accepting.”
The reactions children have to Olly’s videos also demonstrate how gender and sexuality, unlike discrimination, are innate and not taught. “I once had a young trans boy come up to me and say, ‘Thank you for writing your book Jamie, because this is me. My name is Jamie, and this book is about me.’ That literally blew me away. Sometimes it’s difficult to actually picture who you are making/writing the videos and books for. But once you meet someone like that, it makes it all worth it.”
Olly’s work is just starting to get the recognition it deserves, which points to a promising and influential future. He’s spoken at City Hall and Parliament on “LGBTIQA+ education with regards to children’s mental health”, and has made the National Diversity Award 2017 shortlist for Postive Role Model LGBT+.
There is still so much more to come for Pop’n’Olly, though. “I’m working on something special at the moment to celebrate hitting 10k!” he reveals. “It’s my first ever song! So I’m excited to be trying something different on my channel. But big future plans? I’d love one of my LGBTIQA+ fairy tales to be turned into a full-length animated film by someone like Pixar. That would be amazing. I can dream, right?”
Please continue to dream big, Olly, because your channel is a shining beacon of hope for a more inclusive and happy future.
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