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June 14, 2023

WHYY debuts two new children's TV shows made in Philadelphia

'Albie's Elevator' airs weekdays, locally and on online on Youtube; 'The Infinite Art Hunt' premieres July 3

Albie's Elevator WHYY Provided Image/WHYY

WHYY has created two new kids' TV shows that showcase Philadelphia artists and scenery. 'Albie's Elevator,' pictured above, has already premiered on Channel 12 and Youtube.

A pair of new locally made TV shows will let kids virtually embark on educational adventures in Philadelphia.

WHYY's original children's programs, "Albie's Elevator" and "The Infinite Art Hunt," will air this summer on WHYY TV-12 and online on Youtube. Both shows were made in the Philly region and showcase local artists and landmarks while encouraging social-emotional learning.

"Thankfully, we got to make these shows that were real-world, which I thought was important, so kids could kind of see their own neighborhoods reflected and their own lived experiences reflected," said Caitlin Corkery, a Temple University alumna and co-creator of both shows.

In the second half of of 2020, WHYY was approached by the William Penn Foundation with a grant to fund children's programming. Both series were filmed last summer.

"We knew we wanted to do something for preschoolers, so 2- to 5-year-olds, and then early elementary students, which is 6- to 8-year-olds," Corkery said. "And we also knew that during the pandemic, a lot of creatives had shifted to making their own content and digital content to get their work out. So I took the idea of well, all these people are already making incredible things, why don't we capitalize on that and use that for these kids shows so we're spreading the reach of that content?"

"Albie's Elevator," which premiered Monday, is the first-ever children's show created in WHYY's Philly studios. It airs weekdays at 9:30 a.m.

During each episode, elevator operator (and puppet) Albie faces a problem and enlists help from her neighbors to navigate the issue and find a solution. Albie's magical elevator helps her travel to speak with real-life performers, visual artists, musicians, creators and arts educators from the Philly region.

"Albie's Elevator" is geared toward children who are preschool-age and older. It has a particular focus on social-emotional learning, as viewers watch Albie grow to understand herself and how to get along with her peers. 

"Puppets are great because they become relatable, right? Anyone can see their identity in a puppet because it's not specific," Corkery said. "And it also allows us to be playful and kind of colorful and imaginative and create this fantasy world around the character."

The first episode of "The Infinite Art Hunt" will be broadcast 11:30 a.m. on Monday, July 3, and then at the same time on weekdays after that. The series, which is intended for children in early elementary school grades and older, follows 12-year-old Freddie, played by Delaware County-resident Bianca Salerno, as she spends the summer in her grandma's art studio with her cousin, Ty (Jayson Brown).

Infinite Art Hunt WHYYProvided Image/WHYY

In “The Infinite Art Hunt,” which premieres July 3 on WHYY, cousins Freddie (Bianca Salerno) and Ty (Jayson Brown) help out in their grandma's art studio for the summer and embark on adventures across Philadelphia.

In the series, Freddie, Ty and their companions venture across Philly on a mission to see as much art and meet as many artists as possible, honing their social-emotional skills along the way.

"Bianca Salerno is the nicest middle schooler in the world, and so thoughtful and cool and asks great questions," Corkery said. "And we let her be herself for a lot of segments where she's interacting with artists or educators ... I think she's the kind of kid that, when I was younger, I would want to hang out with or be like, 'This is my cool older cousin.'" 

Viewers in the region may recognize landmarks, like the Barnes Foundation, New Jersey's Grounds for Sculpture, South Street's Magic Gardens, Smith Memorial Playground in Farimount Park and the Philadelphia International Airport.

"We really wanted this to feel like we're granting access to kids, so they could see themselves in these spaces that can sometimes seem like, 'this is a very grown up place,'" Corkery said. "But kids can bring their own perspective to art and can see these (art venues) as a little bit more approachable ... So yeah, it feels like we already have this great, incredible resource of all these people and places in the Greater Philadelphia region. It felt like it was the right move to showcase them."

WHYY’s education team has created custom curricula for educators and caregivers to accompany each episode, with lesson plans and activities for both shows available through PBS Learning Media. Throughout the summer, WHYY will host to-be-announced "Albie's Elevator" and "The Infinite Art Hunt" screenings and kid-friendly events around Philly, South Jersey and Delaware. 

The first full episode of "Albie's Elevator" is available on the WHYY Kids YouTube channel.

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