Restorative Storytelling for All of Us

Sofia Bert, Sahara Velasquez and Julia Pappas

April 12, 2020

We are always on the look for people in the media industry rolling up their sleeves and putting in hard work. When that grit actually gives back in a way that lifts another person up, we can’t help but stand on our chairs to cheer! This quick feature on a film from Tige Charity’s restorative storytelling nonprofit Kids in the Spotlight is just what needed for our souls and our streaming lineup during this quarantine!


Life imitating art

What started as sci-fi now seems to hit close to home as telegraphing 2020 (pun somewhat intended #stayhome).

A group of foster kids under the guidance of Kids in the Spotlight wrote “Cyverius,” an ambitious sci-fi short script about a global pandemic that tests their integrity and compassion.

Yep, global pandemic.

“A good story, like Cyverius, can motivate people to take action and help ensure the well-being of others,” said KITS director Tige Charity. “Over the coming months, we will be asked to think of others before we think of ourselves. We must recognize small opportunities of selflessness to act upon—such as practicing social distancing, leaving enough supplies for others and lending a helping hand to the less fortunate or less capable.”

These filmmakers weren’t looking into their crystal ball to tell the future.

In the 10-week KITS program, they had access to Hollywood’s best talent and professional level writing and storytelling experts. This environment let their creativity blossom. They dreamed up the Cyverius world, then shot the short film on real sets. The final film was edited by the best in the business.

While most foster youth in the program use the outlet to tell their own stories, the filmmakers for Cyverius created their own world. In the process, Marissa Emis had a chance to act in her dream roll on camera. The production mirrored that of a major studio. The film debuted in front of a packed audience at Paramount Studio in November, long before coronavirus made our world closer to world described in the film. Cyverius even has an IMDB listing.

Overcoming adversity

This sci-fi world has more in common with the foster youth than it seems on the surface. Just like the young filmmakers of KITS, the characters in “Cyverius” were put to the test to show their perseverance and compassion to save lives.

Whether a direct telling of one’s story or something more of a metaphor, KITS empowers foster youth to heal from their trauma. By using filmmaking, the program provides future television and film stars with a clear path to a career and the jump start they need to get ahead.

“It is an overwhelming joy to see our youth tell a story that celebrates and values humanity, despite the challenges they faced growing up in foster care,” said Charity. “Even though we provide them with the opportunity to tell their stories, their way, these kids chose to use their creativity to positively impact their world with a story about hope and harmony.”

KITS gives foster youth a platform to speak, and validation of their struggles. The program encourages healing through restorative storytelling.

As tangible benefits, KITS filmmakers:

  • work with Hollywood talent and learn the craft from the industry’s best
  • compete in film festivals, where some have even won
  • register as screenwriters with the Writer’s Guild of America

To date, 445 foster youth have graduated the 10-week KITS program. When 60% of former foster youth make up for high incarceration rates, homelessness, teen pregnancy and suicide a program like KITS that gives the combination of skill and hope is just what we need to help make the world a better place.

Stream “Cyverius” and other Kids in the Spotlight films while you’re staying safe at home during the pandemic, and share this story with your friends. While this film was meant to be restorative storytelling for the foster youth filmmakers, the entire Kids in the Spotlight program does a good bit to refill our hearts.This is medicine for our soul.

Restorative Storytelling for All of Us
Restorative Storytelling for All of Us

We are always on the look for people in the media industry rolling up their sleeves and putting in hard work. When that grit actually gives back in a way that lifts another person up, we can’t help but stand on our chairs to cheer! This quick feature on a film from Tige Charity’s restorative storytelling nonprofit Kids in the Spotlight is just what needed for our souls and our streaming lineup during this quarantine!


Life imitating art

What started as sci-fi now seems to hit close to home as telegraphing 2020 (pun somewhat intended #stayhome).

A group of foster kids under the guidance of Kids in the Spotlight wrote “Cyverius,” an ambitious sci-fi short script about a global pandemic that tests their integrity and compassion.

Yep, global pandemic.

“A good story, like Cyverius, can motivate people to take action and help ensure the well-being of others,” said KITS director Tige Charity. “Over the coming months, we will be asked to think of others before we think of ourselves. We must recognize small opportunities of selflessness to act upon—such as practicing social distancing, leaving enough supplies for others and lending a helping hand to the less fortunate or less capable.”

These filmmakers weren’t looking into their crystal ball to tell the future.

In the 10-week KITS program, they had access to Hollywood’s best talent and professional level writing and storytelling experts. This environment let their creativity blossom. They dreamed up the Cyverius world, then shot the short film on real sets. The final film was edited by the best in the business.

While most foster youth in the program use the outlet to tell their own stories, the filmmakers for Cyverius created their own world. In the process, Marissa Emis had a chance to act in her dream roll on camera. The production mirrored that of a major studio. The film debuted in front of a packed audience at Paramount Studio in November, long before coronavirus made our world closer to world described in the film. Cyverius even has an IMDB listing.

Overcoming adversity

This sci-fi world has more in common with the foster youth than it seems on the surface. Just like the young filmmakers of KITS, the characters in “Cyverius” were put to the test to show their perseverance and compassion to save lives.

Whether a direct telling of one’s story or something more of a metaphor, KITS empowers foster youth to heal from their trauma. By using filmmaking, the program provides future television and film stars with a clear path to a career and the jump start they need to get ahead.

“It is an overwhelming joy to see our youth tell a story that celebrates and values humanity, despite the challenges they faced growing up in foster care,” said Charity. “Even though we provide them with the opportunity to tell their stories, their way, these kids chose to use their creativity to positively impact their world with a story about hope and harmony.”

KITS gives foster youth a platform to speak, and validation of their struggles. The program encourages healing through restorative storytelling.

As tangible benefits, KITS filmmakers:

  • work with Hollywood talent and learn the craft from the industry’s best
  • compete in film festivals, where some have even won
  • register as screenwriters with the Writer’s Guild of America

To date, 445 foster youth have graduated the 10-week KITS program. When 60% of former foster youth make up for high incarceration rates, homelessness, teen pregnancy and suicide a program like KITS that gives the combination of skill and hope is just what we need to help make the world a better place.

Stream “Cyverius” and other Kids in the Spotlight films while you’re staying safe at home during the pandemic, and share this story with your friends. While this film was meant to be restorative storytelling for the foster youth filmmakers, the entire Kids in the Spotlight program does a good bit to refill our hearts.This is medicine for our soul.