Our Journey in Crafting the Upstander Animations Series

In our pursuit of fostering inclusivity and ending LGBTQ+ bullying in schools, Diversity Role Models is proud to unveil our bold new set of classroom resources – the Upstander Animations Series. This vibrant collection of animated shorts has been created to empower young people to be an ‘upstander’ against unkindness and to pause, rethink, rewind, be kind when encountering people and situations that are unfamiliar or different to them.

Why This Initiative Matters

At Diversity Role Models, we recognise that embedding compassion, understanding and inclusivity requires more than a single workshop or lesson and extends beyond the classroom. As part of our ‘whole school approach’ not only do we work directly with pupils, but we also support school staff and the wider community. By providing high-quality resources, we aim to inspire bold, positive conversations that celebrate differences, and cascade from classrooms, through schools, to communities. Together, we can cultivate inclusive environments and support the next generation to stand up against LGBTQ+ bullying, prejudice, and discrimination.

The Power of Animated Storytelling

Our series of animated short videos were designed for sharing inspiring narratives in classrooms and homes alike. In the classroom, these stories allow teachers to explore personal topics through relatable, intersectional characters, providing a safe space for students to step into someone else's shoes without feeling defensive or sharing personal things about themselves or their family. This approach retains the power of storytelling for change, a core element of our mission at Diversity Role Models.

Research supports the effectiveness of storytelling as an educational tool, and shows that narrative videos, like those in our Upstander Animations Series, can foster empathy and cooperative behaviour.

Studies even show that you are 22 times more likely to remember a story than a plain fact, and that positive role models and storytelling can significantly reduce prejudicial attitudes. We have also witnessed first-hand the power of personal storytelling, with 96% of primary pupils saying they’d respect someone who is different to them more as a result of attending a Diversity Role Models workshop.  

The Collaborative Journey

Creating these impactful animations was a collaborative endeavour that truly embodies our community values. Drawing inspiration from the real-life experiences of our inspiring volunteer Role Models who share stories about different families, the harmful impact of stereotypes, and being different, we worked closely with teachers and experts on our Education Steering Group to conceptualise the series. However, we didn’t know where to start on creating an animation. Luckily, our greatest strength at Diversity Role Models is our volunteers and we reached out to David Levine - a longstanding volunteer and founder of Lightboat Media - to ask his advice.

David offered his support in producing the short videos, volunteering his services to help us, and enlisted the fantastic support of award-winning writer Hamish Steele, the skilled team at Cloth Cat, Kieran Brown, and the Fitzrovia post-production team. Along with Michelle Jones and her team at Brilliant Casting, their collective commitment and expertise brought the Diversity Role Models Upstander Animations Series to life.

The Upstander Animations Series is a testament to the power of collaboration and inclusivity. Featuring intersectional characters portrayed by incredibly talented actors, including the character of Mr. Dembski - a deaf teacher, voice by an incredible deaf LGBTQ+ Role Model.

The project not only inspires the next generation to stand up for inclusion, but also embedded our inclusive values through every aspect of its production.

The Finished Product: Diversity Role Models Upstander Animations Series

The result of this collective effort is the Diversity Role Models Upstander Animations Series – a collection of inspiring shorts featuring intersectional characters portrayed by talented actors from diverse backgrounds. These videos are designed to motivate the next generation to be upstanders against unkindness and celebrate diversity.

Supported by our incredible team of dedicated educators at Diversity Role Models and informed by insights from young people in our Student Voice Group and teachers in our Education Steering Group, we've developed a series of resources to seamlessly integrate the short, animated videos into primary school classrooms. With videos tailored for different age groups, we address incidents of unkindness, from celebrating diverse families to standing up against gender stereotypes, to challenging negative perceptions of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Designed to complement the PSHE relationships education curriculum, the resources focus on key themes of respecting difference, identifying bullying and its impacts, and challenging stereotypes.

We invite everyone to watch brand new ‘Upstander Animation’ short videos on Vimeo, engage with our classroom resources and contribute to creating a future generation of inclusive, compassionate and confident upstanders.