Starting in June 1996, the Judge Baker Children's Center wrote and produced "The New Kid," the pilot episode of "Willoughby's Wonders", a projected educational television series for 6- to 10-year-old children.
The Judge Baker Children's Center is a mental health center affiliated with the Harvard Medical School.
Staff at the Judge Baker Children's Center also carried out artistic development and strategic planning required to expand to 13 episodes for broadcast.
The program's goal was to foster the development of social and coping skills in children ages 6 to 10 through an entertaining action program built around a soccer team called "Willoughby's Wonders."
The pilot episode aired on December 21, 1996. This is believed to be the first educational television program written and produced by a mental health center for children.
- The program reflects the real life conflicts and pressures children and their families' experience and presents models of positive behavior.
- The pilot won two New England Emmy awards and received positive evaluations and reviews.
After the pilot aired, staff at the Judge Baker Children's Center developed the following materials in preparing for the proposed series:
- A pre-production story outline and "bible" for writers.
- A marketing kit.
- An outreach plan.
- A production budget.
- An evaluation of proposed sketches.
It also signed a formal co-production partnership with WGBH Boston. The Judge Baker Children's Center cultivated Public Broadcasting System interest in airing the series and obtained a $550,000 grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.