Irondale, AL (EWTN) – Two years ago, EWTN Global Catholic Network launched its interactive website for children, EWTNKids (www.ewtn.com/ewtnkids). Since then, the multifaceted online site has become one of the most popular places for young people to visit and learn about the Catholic Faith.
Catholic schools across the U.S. have begun using EWTNKids to help teachers in the classroom. The first school to register its religion class students for access to EWTNKids is St. Monica's Catholic School in Miami, Florida. St. Monica's Vice-Chair of Technology, Sylvia Miner, says, "Our students love EWTNKids! It has been a great help to the teachers. It’s educating and entertaining and that helps kids to learn."
St. Monica’s is a Catholic co-educational K-8 day school with the goal of providing an appropriate Christian education while remaining affordable and accessible to all children. Serving the diverse population of Miami-Dade and Broward counties, St. Monica’s Catholic School’s initiative is to become “The Model” for other urban schools.
St. Monica’s Principal, Manuel F. Varela says, “As part of our quest, we envision a school where high quality, technology, advanced learning and good citizenry are blended together with an awakened and fervent Christian spirituality. The EWTNKids website fits perfectly into our plan.”
Varela added, “The site has helped our children to relate, to connect, to be active and interested. They have begun to get more into their Faith. While half of St. Monica’s students aren’t Catholic, EWTNKids has helped all of our students to understand the Catholic Faith in a fun and loving way.”
A longtime viewer of EWTN, who credits viewing the network’s television programming as the reason his life turned back to Jesus and led him to become principal of St. Monica’s, Mr. Varela regularly visits the EWTN website homepage to print out the “Reflection of the Day” and then shares it with the students.
While not intended to replace traditional catechetical curriculum, Varela has found EWTNKids especially helpful with certain students, even saving money in the process. “In the past we have spent a lot of money on traditional religion books that some of our slower learners found too challenging. This site has helped to take care of that problem.”
The EWTNKids site is set up as an interactive village, consisting of a church, a school, a clubhouse, a post office, a library, three houses, and the EWTN Faith Factory, complete with satellite dish. The school consists of interactive classrooms where visitors can take easy Catholic quizzes, moderately difficult quizzes and advanced quizzes. Kids can find the addresses to write to the Holy Father, EWTN, and Mother Angelica during their visit to the post office. They are also able to use the Post Office’s “Write Us!” feature to ask questions of “Father Peter” and the “EWTNKids”. Questions are answered daily, and can be viewed in the Post Office.
In the three houses, they meet the Morgans, the Washingtons and the Diegos. The interactive children in these homes take a child through many different fun and entertaining learning activities. From how to make a prayer corner to making a spiritual bouquet, each of the activities addresses “How-To,” “Who Needs To Help You,” “What Supplies You Will Need,” and “Why This Is Important.”
In the Morgan home, the user finds Baby Grace’s room, which contains a book titled “Before I Was Born.” In this book, the progression of life in the womb is shown in a delicate and educational manner appropriate for young children, complete with animation and representations of the early movement and growth. The site offers coloring books, activities and games.
A visit to the EWTN Faith Factory includes a visit to the TV studios and the radio station, where kids can listen to many popular songs. A current list of programming and schedules is available in this part of the site. Plans are underway now to include short video clips of a variety of shows for viewing.
EWTN’s Kimberly Fach, primary designer of the site, credits the Holy Spirit with giving her the “idea” for the website. “I had been wanting to do something that would be a benefit for the children in our EWTN viewing family, and after praying for inspiration, these ideas just began falling into place.” With a degree in Theology and Religious Education as well as training in Commercial Art, Fach has the ideal background for development of this type of an interactive religious educational site. Although the focus and intent is for children to learn about the Catholic faith, Kimberly says, “I want kids to have fun while they’re learning. This site is meant to be fun. Kids have to dig around and look for things, though. We will be updating and adding to the site, so every time they visit, they will see something new. We don’t want to make it too easy.”
EWTN Global Catholic Network, in its 24th year, is available in more than 105 million television households in 110 countries. And with its direct broadcast satellite television & radio services, AM & FM radio networks, worldwide short-wave radio station, Internet website www.ewtn.com and publishing arm, EWTN is the largest religious media network in the world.