The Rez is a sci-fi podcast adventure for 7–11 year-olds also told through a comic book and a game-based website.
Set in a future where happiness is just another download, our young heroes start to wonder what’s missing in their ‘perfect’ lives, and reach back to the children of the 2020s for help building meaningful relationships and defeating an AI that wants to keep them under its control.
Recent UK Comic Book laureate Hannah Berry developed a story that is wild, silly, and exciting alongside a team of writers and psychologists, including Robin Banerjee, Professor of Kindness (yes, there is such a thing). The Rez’s heroes are played by Karl Queensborough (Hamilton in the UK production of Hamilton) and Emily Burnett (last year’s Children’s BAFTA award winner). Juliet Aubrey (BAFTA winner for Best Actress) plays JEF the malevolent AI. Workshops and interview sessions across the UK mean that real children were involved in the co-creation of The Rez story, and provide our heroes with advice and ideas in their own voices in nearly every episode. Season 1 was recorded during the lockdown of the spring of 2020, and Season 2 as Sonica Studios, London. The 25 episodes (roughly 15 minutes each) are distributed by Gen-Z Media. Each season was accompanied by Rez comic book and Rez mental-health lesson plans are being taught in hundreds of primary schools around the world. The website (which your on right now!) is filled with story-based games, news from the the Rez world, messages from the characters, and ways for young people to send messages to our heroes. Since its release in 2021 The Rez has been download hundreds of thousands of times and has won or been nominated for several pretty nifty awards: Webby, ARIA, APA, British Podcast Award, Signal and others.
Preen and Sav, two friends living in a future where all their needs are catered for, are starting to wonder if they’re missing something: simple human kindness. When searching for her missing Gran, Sav discovers a phone in a pile of old technology, and realises she can use it to contact ‘Pastlings’–the children of the 2020s. She teams up with the one-time mega-influencer Preen, and together they use messages from present day children to work out what ‘kindness’ is, how they can make real friends, and what on earth ‘school’ might have been. They’re chased by droids and drones controlled by JEF, an omnipresent AI who wants to keep everyone plugged in and will do anything to stop people engaging in analogue, off-grid communication (and trips outside).
“Our research shows that unfortunately a significant proportion of children are frequently on the receiving end of bullying behaviours. Developing empathy and encouraging kindness can make a big difference when it comes to bullying, so resources that support teachers to bring this into their classroom are extremely valuable.”
Director of The Anti-Bullying Alliance
“Stories that communicate the value of kindness for building resilience in young people are more important than ever. Research shows that kindness involves not just helpful or comforting behaviour, but also a prosocial motivation – that is, an attitude of care and concern for others and a real desire to bring about positive changes in others’ lives.
We know from our own research studies in the CRESS lab that the kindnesses we give to others, however small or large, are a foundation for making and keeping positive relationships. And these relationships in turn serve as the bedrock of good mental health and wellbeing, enabling us to be resilient when times are stressful or challenging. Now, more than ever, we need stories like The Rez to shine a light on what really matters in young people’s lives.”
Professor of Kindness Robin Banerjee
Head of Psychology at the University of Sussex
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* while stocks last.
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