Filmmakers to include Sarasota in documentary about early childhood

Ellen Galinsky, center, author of "Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs" is interviewed Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017 for a documentary by the Colombian-based Genesis Foundation. [Herald-Tribune staff photo / Mike Lang]

Ellen Galinsky, center, author of "Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs" is interviewed Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017 for a documentary by the Colombian-based Genesis Foundation. [Herald-Tribune staff photo / Mike Lang]

SARASOTA — Most days, the Genesis Foundation works to make education accessible for at-risk children in remote regions of Latin America. But the Colombian-based nonprofit is now taking its mission to a global level. The organization is producing a documentary on early childhood featuring experts and examples from around the world.

Their current stop? Sarasota.

The documentary, “Igniting the Spark,” will highlight Mind in the Making workshops currently underway in Sarasota and Manatee counties, orchestrated by the Suncoast Campaign for Grade Level Reading and The Patterson Foundation. Created by author Ellen Galinsky, the Mind in the Making program uses research on early childhood brain development to train parents and caregivers on the importance of a child’s first few years of life.

“Ellen Galinsky’s project is very much aligned with our project,” said documentary director Carlota Nelson. “She didn’t just write a book, she’s really started a movement by training others and debunking myths about early childhood.”

Nelson had her own ideas about early childhood. She spent nearly a year researching the topic and coming up with ways to craft a documentary that would speak to everyone. She and her crew have traveled throughout the Americas, and will soon make their way to Europe and Asia, interviewing neuroscientists, educators and even economists.

Ellen Galinsky, author of "Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs" is interviewed Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017 for a documentary by the Colombian-based Genesis Foundation. [Herald-Tribune staff photo / Mike Lang]

Ellen Galinsky, author of "Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs" is interviewed Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2017 for a documentary by the Colombian-based Genesis Foundation. [Herald-Tribune staff photo / Mike Lang]

Among other people the filmmakers have interviewed are UNICEF’s Chief of Early Child Development Pia Britto, neuroscientist Craig Ramey and Timothy Bartik, known for his work on the economic impact of investing in early childhood programs.

But it’s not just about the experts, says Nelson. Producers have brainstormed ways to spread the message even to remote regions; there are plans to play clips of the documentary in maternity wards and health clinics and create easily downloadable videos to inform advocates and legislators.

A scientific advisory board also is working alongside the filmmakers to ensure that the film is an accurate and useful tool for those interested in early childhood, Nelson said.

“We want neuroscientists to watch the documentary and learn something new,” she added. “A lot of people work in silos. We’re bringing people — economists, neuroscientists, educators — together.”

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