Documentary reminds us to be neighbourly

Fred Rogers lived his life with the same kindness he portrayed in his show

On Jan. 19, Alberta Avenue Community League held a movie night and potluck to screen Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The documentary focused on Fred Rogers, a supporter of acceptance and love, presenting his history and his beloved show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

The purpose of the show was to connect with children, telling them that they are perfect and loved for who they are.

The show aired from 1968 to 2001, reaching children worldwide, teaching them about acceptance and explaining life’s terrifying moments in a safe way. Rogers brought real-life scenarios into his show and asked the questions he knew would be on a child’s mind.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? showed that the kindness Rogers portrayed on his show was how he lived his life.

Out of all the characters on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Daniel Striped Tiger was the closest to the real-life Rogers. The puppet allowed him to express how he truly felt. It created a barrier that gave him the freedom to express anxieties he held as a child, and which resonated throughout his life.

The documentary brought moments of laughter, like the story of how a crew member stole Rogers’ camera and took a photo of his buttocks for him to find. Rogers then turned the picture into a poster and gifted it to that crew member. The documentary also posed questions that make us think. It showed us what the world has become, with footage of people boycotting Rogers’ funeral. It put to bed false rumours, like his military career. Plus, it addressed issues the show brought up which still resonate today, like when the character King Friday the 13th wanted to put up a wall to keep his kingdom safe. Remind you of anyone?

This documentary demonstrates the power of acceptance. Hopefully it will reawaken the child within all of us and renew his message. This movie is a must-see.

After the showing, those in attendance agreed that the documentary was powerful.

“I thought it was very touching. I thought it was really well done. I thought it really showed what that man was like in a very touching way,” says Margaret Larsen. “And all the lessons that he wanted to get across. It just showed it so well.”  

Larsen continues: “His basic message is, treat your children with respect and love and listen to them. Beyond that, it should carry on in our lives as we become teenagers and as we become adults, to show that respect to other people.”

Colyn O’Reilly stated that the movie was, “Awesome. Awesome. On all levels.” She adds that there is a child in all of us. “That’s how we develop. That’s where we came from. It’s our foundation. I think a lot of adults have forgotten how to play—how we learned respect through play.”

O’Reilly says the choice to see good in yourself will help you to see good in others “and treat each other how you want to be treated: with kindness, with respect.”

The league screened this movie because it shows similarities to what they do with their block parties.

“Tearing down barriers between neighbours. The movie looks at barriers between cultural divides, skin colour, even gender identity. And we thought this movie could be a great example of how to neighbour well, especially around kids,” explains Lenn Wheatley, Neighbourhood Connector. “We also thought it would be great to have a movie night.”

Community league members may borrow the dvd. Contact the league at 780.477.2773 or email at info@albertaave.org.


Featured Image: Alberta Avenue Community League screened Won’t You Be My Neighbor? on Jan. 19. | Stephen Strand

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