People are spending more time on Facebook live, Zoom and YouTube to perform and talk to each other during the COVID-19 pandemic. A group of close friends in the Renton Highlands are using this as a chance to create a kid-friendly community YouTube channel: Renton Kreations.
It began in June as a channel spread through word of mouth for a tight-knit group of friends and family. Now they are hoping to bring the children’s summer book review segment to more Renton families.
“We’ve been friends for a while, and we used to do events for the local community here in the Highlands. Because of COVID-19, we couldn’t meet with anybody,” One of the creators, Vidhya Srinivasan, said. “So we thought, why don’t we launch a YouTube channel and do something online? That seems to be the need of the day.”
All seven are mothers living in the Highlands area. Each brings different interests and topics to the channel. The content so far includes DIY projects, cooking, debates, performances, a casual game show focusing on South Indian cinema, and the kids book review segment. Many of these videos are available in Tamil, with some exceptions, like the book reviews, in English.
Renton Kreations’ mission statement is to offer captivating videos including sharing life experiences, group discussions and streamed games. The ultimate goal is to bring out the best in people and content, according to the team.
Srinivasan said the kids book review series was intended to promote summer reading and discussion. They’ve tried to pick books covering various social topics, she said, so younger kids can learn about different walks of life.
After the first video, a local elementary school librarian offered to host one of the discussions. Ultimately, the hope is to get the attention of King County Libraries to collaborate with them.
In the Renton Kreations book review series you can see each kid, headsets on, zoom background ready, is confident and engaged in the discussion. Is it a testament to growing up watching YouTubers that they look more engaged streaming than they might in a classroom?
Srinivasan said there has been lots of interest from kids who want to be featured on the channel, discussing a book over stream. Everyone on the Renton Kreations team is new to managing and publishing a public YouTube channel. One founder, Vidya Varadarajan, has had her own private account for family videos before, but nothing like this. Srinivasan, Varadarajan and fellow team member Radhika Narasimhan said coordinating and deciding content, and getting Renton Kreations better known, have been the biggest challenges.
Varadarajan said it’s been fun to learn from their children’s use of the platform. Similarly, Srinivasan’s son is really into YouTube, and publishes his own videos about once a month. But it’s not just a kid thing— the adults involved all enjoy YouTube as well, she said.
Narasimhan, who also hosts the channel’s game show, said having a YouTube channel means they can reach people out of the state or out of the country.. Particularly their families far away, such as in India, Narasimhan said, get to see them engaged and happy in the videos. That can be a relief for some who have been worried how they are holding up with the pandemic.
“They are like, ‘OK, at least they’re doing this,’” Narasimhan said. “It’s distracting— in a good way.”
Besides learning tons about running a channel, the videos are also teaching the creators at Renton Creations important social lessons. Srinivasan said after watching their video, “How can Gen Z help to bridge the racial divide?” where Renton teenagers discussed racism, it opened her eyes to how teenagers view racism today. She said seeing them discuss how people flock together with similar interests or cultures gave her a whole new perspective. Varadarajan said they hope to include more discussions like this in the future.
“Ideally we will be positioning the platform for both leisure and social topics. We want to showcase talented folks, at the same time we also want to encourage discussions where groups of people come together,” Varadarajan said.
The Renton Kreations team has content planned through the end of the summer, but Srinivasan said they hope to reach a wide enough audience in August to justify continuing the channel into the fall.