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New video helps children understand societal complexities

December 10, 2020 Brandon Sonnenberg, Aspen Foundation for Labour Education, Special to the ATA News


What is social justice?

A new video entitled What is Social Justice? features a ladybug named Shelly and helps children develop an appreciation for diversity, co-operation and active, engaged citizenship.

The Aspen Foundation has completed its newest video, What is Social Justice? Meant for elementary students, this animated, short video explores how various groups of citizens can work together to solve issues in our society. This project encourages students to improve our communities by thinking about important issues they face and finding ways to solve them.

What is Social Justice? introduces elementary students to the concept of social justice through an illustrated metaphor of a healthy community. The portrayal of a healthy garden is one that has a variety of plants that all have sufficient access to sunlight, clean water and good soil. 

We are introduced to the garden through the eyes of Shelly, a ladybug who is a citizen of the garden. The garden is a little community, which includes a wide variety of plants that serve as places to live and work for many sorts of insects. It is a thriving and comfortable little place for those that inhabit it.

However, everything changes when “builder beetle” and his construction company move into the community and start building “corndominiums” that are much bigger and taller than all the other plants. The corndominiums’ leaves block access to the sun and water for plants lower to the ground. Soon these shorter plants start to wither and die in the shade while the corndominiums flourish, forcing the insects who lived and worked in the small plants to lose their jobs. 



As time goes on, the bustling garden that was once full of activity is now a drought-ridden place. Everything seems lost until Shelly gets a brilliant idea. What if everyone was willing to work together to make sure all residents got what they need? Not only would all the plants, both big and small, have access to the sunlight and water needed to have a thriving garden, but if everyone played a role in keeping the garden healthy, everyone would benefit.

The video concludes with the residents of the garden all working together to restore their thriving community and help create not “just a garden,” but “a just garden.”

Aspen’s video What is Social Justice? engages youth to consider what kind of community and world they would like to live in. It also promotes an appreciation of diversity, co-operation and active, engaged citizenship.

The Aspen Foundation is a registered Alberta charity serving K–12 educators and students throughout the province of Alberta. Aspen believes that a high-quality and relevant education for students is critical for their success and the success of Alberta. As such, Aspen is dedicated to providing citizens with the knowledge, skills and attitudes that empower them to contribute fully to a healthy, just and democratic workplace, community and society through participation in labour and social justice initiatives. ❚

Brandon Sonnenberg is the outreach co-ordinator for the Aspen Foundation for Labour Education.


If you are interested in viewing our What is Social Justice? video, you can go to our YouTube channel.” 

To view our resources and for further information, please check out our website at


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