We’re all familiar with the ways of raccoons – they’re clever, inquisitive and playful creatures. No wonder then, that this ring-tailed varmint is the animated mascot for educational media produced by Rodney Raccoon and BYTM (Building Youth Through Music)/WayOut Kids, a non-profit whose mission is to teach children and youth through music and multimedia. BYTM has developed the “Rodney Raccoon” character, curricula and outreach into an award-winning model that successfully involves youth and the community in social change through the delivery of information to diverse groups of children, parents and local educators. Spaceworks is proud to support Rodney Raccoon and company with a six-month Creative Enterprise Residency at 717 Tacoma Avenue South through June 15, 2013.
Rodney Raccoon and BYTM were the creation of Frederick “JD” Davis, a music producer with a desire to enrich local community while helping alleviate what he believed to be a learning gap for diverse children. In 2005, his then-company, WayOut Records, Inc., launched WayOut Kids to explore the process of educating through music. Through the record company, Davis began hosting a national WayOut Fun Day. Next, he implemented an annual food drive which would provide Thanksgiving meals to needy families. Finally, he began developing creative media to help children with learning.
“Music in the lives of young children is a highly effective means of delivering vital information about the world itself, as when it is used to teach such basic content” as counting, letters of the alphabet, colors, social skills, and wonders of the natural world, says the company’s website. Davis began to experiment with combining music and learning fundamentals, and the result was the first Rodney Raccoon educational DVD, Elementary Hip Hop featuring “Rock Your ABCs and 123s” in English and Spanish. The DVD was a success and local elementary schools and ECAP Programs began implementing it into their regular school day. The next DVD, Fun with Fitness, emphasized health and nutrition for children and introduced dance moves which encouraged exercise. The positive reception to the DVDs led to the process of introducing a new educational CD/DVD each year. The 2012 DVD, Rodney Goes Green, is currently in production and focuses on the effects of polluted run-off in the Puget Sound.
Rodney Raccoon’s new downtown den will provide the multimedia group with office space for staff and volunteers, a recording studio and rehearsal space, and additional room for community meetings and twice-yearly open house events. Business hours will be Monday through Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. Raccoons are well-known for their ingenuity and we can’t wait to see what this creative house will produce. Rodney Raccoon/BYTM at 717 Tacoma Avenue South through June 15, 2013. www.rodneyraccoon.com
* * * * *
Rodney Goes Green received grant funding from the City of Tacoma “Make A Splash” Program, the Russell Family Foundation, the Sequoia Foundation, the Boys and Girls Club, Foss Waterway Seaport, and the Ben “B” Cheney Foundation.