From the Chasing Childhood website:
“Chasing Childhood is a feature-length documentary that explores a phenomenon affecting kids from a broad range of socioeconomic backgrounds. Free play and independence have all but disappeared, supplanted by relentless perfectionism and record-high anxiety and depression. What’s lost goes well beyond our idyllic conceptions of childhood past. When kids don’t play unsupervised by adults, they don’t gain critical life skills: grit, independence, and resourcefulness. Though they may appear more accomplished on paper, by the time they get to college they are often falling apart, lacking the emotional tools to navigate young adulthood.”
Significant portions of this film were shot in Wilton, including with the Eason family, who are featured prominently in the documentary. According to the synopsis, the Easons imagined the perfect life for their daughter, Savannah, “if they just did everything right.” That’s until Savannah is hospitalized in high school, making them reevaluate their own values and those of the culture in which their living.
Genevieve Porter Eason eventually became the current executive director of the Wilton Youth Council and chair of Wilton’s Free Play Task Force, working to “reframe society’s definition of success and take back childhood in Wilton.”
“The film also focuses on the working-class district of Patchogue, NY, where school Superintendent, Michael Hynes, struggles to add recess, meditation, and longer a lunch period to combat his own epidemic of anxiety and behavioral issues among students. Uniting Wilton and Patchogue is Lenore Skenazy, founder of the Free Range Kids movement, who provides the model for introducing “Let Grow” child-driven independence projects to both towns. Her own work takes her inside NY city public schools where we get to witness these projects in action as kids prove they are capable beyond what they ever imagined.”
The documentary is premiering this week online as part of DOC NYC. Included with the screening ticket is an exclusive pre-recorded Q&A with Director/Executive Producer Margaret Munzer Loeb, Director/Producer Eden Wurmfeld, subject Genevieve Porter Eason, immediately following the film. Tickets can be purchased online.