"Taz's Story," a 90-second video segment starring Statesboro High School golfer Tazmerria Wilson, now in 12th grade, debuted Tuesday as part of the new "Hope Givers" documentary streaming series being distributed by Georgia Public Broadcasting and available to schools across the country.
Hope Givers, a nonprofit organization based in Atlanta, created the series of the same name, which in its first season consists of eight episodes, each 10-15 minutes long, on topics of resiliency and hope. An arrangement with GPB and the Georgia Department of Education makes the series available to schools and online.
The segment about Wilson, made by her and golf coach Chad Farrell, who is also Statesboro High’s audio-video technology and film teacher, appears in the seventh episode. But all eight episodes, uploaded simultaneously for streaming in schools, were set for release Tuesday, Sept. 21, and so are now available.
"As Georgia's educators, students and families continue to face challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, resources that address mental wellness are more important than ever," said GPB Director of Education Laura Evans. "GPB is thrilled to be able to offer 'Hope Givers' with Tamlin Hall as part of our already robust collection of free digital learning resources."
To celebrate the launch of this first of its kind series, Hope Givers and GPB were hosting a virtual and free GPB community event at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 21. This digital premiere features screenings of episodes from the series, special guest panels and a Hope Giver of the Year ceremony. Registration was open to the public through EventBrite.
Each episode spotlights an individual or group that has overcome or eschewed adversity and focused instead on having a positive impact in their community. Among the profiles in the eight-episode season are one about Mr. 2-17, an Atlanta rapper and producer who focuses on uplifting messages for youth, and Lily Moore, an actress and model with Down syndrome who stars in the Netflix series "Never Have I Ever" and speaks out against bullying.
Episodes also feature short original cartoons by Los Angeles-based Switchblade Comb Productions, student self-care activities performed in the Hope Givers studio, and "Youth Across America" segments that showcase high school student films from across America.
Taz Wilson was born with bilateral tibial hemimelia, a rare bone deficiency that led to her legs being amputated, just above the knee, before her third birthday. The 90-second segment shows Wilson on the golf course and carries her words of hope and inspiration.
After "Taz's Story" was judged overall first runner-up and won the Hope Givers Storytelling Award in the Hope Film Challenge, "Hope Givers" executive producer and host Tamlin Hall came to Statesboro High in June and presented Wilson with a $600 grant check.
"The stresses, pressures and challenges of the past year have been tough on all of us, and it’s just one more layer for so many young people to have to deal with today,” Hall said in the press release about the series debut. “That’s why I believe so strongly in this project, because it’s not only spreading joy and positivity, but it’s doing so through the stories, experiences and perspectives of some immensely talented, compassionate young people who want to make a difference."
Working with PBS LearningMedia, GPB also intends to make available a complementary learning curriculum that educators, counselors, nurses and social workers can use for a deeper dive into some of the topics being discussed in each episode, such as mental wellness, human trafficking, discrimination, suicide and bullying.