Published on 09/27/21

CAES alum encourages teen mental wellness with new documentary series

By Johnathan McGinty for CAES News
Tamlin Hall (right) interviews Atlanta music artist Mr. 2-17 for Hope Givers, a documentary series that focuses on promoting mental wellness for high schoolers and middle schoolers.
CAES alum Tamlin Hall (right) interviews Atlanta music artist Mr. 2-17 for "Hope Givers," a documentary series that focuses on promoting mental wellness for middle and high schoolers.

Spreading joy and hope comes naturally to University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences (CAES) alum Tamlin Hall, so it’s no surprise that he’s taken his passion for positivity and turned it into a personal mission.

Hall, an independent filmmaker who graduated from CAES in 2002, founded Hope Givers in the wake of the release of his award-winning debut film, "Holden On," a true story and social-impact narrative feature film about his childhood friend, Holden Layfield. Layfield struggled with mental illness and died by suicide at the age of 19. In his quest to raise awareness around the importance of youth seeking help for mental wellness, Hall produced the film and then started Hope Givers.

Now, Hall is kicking off a collaborative partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting and the Georgia Department of Education to launch a documentary series that focuses on promoting mental wellness for middle and high schoolers.

The series, also called "Hope Givers," explores anxiety, depression, bullying, human trafficking, inclusion and more. It will be distributed nationwide through PBS LearningMedia, allowing Hall’s vision for positive content that empowers young people to be available to classrooms across the country.

"Hope Givers" will be aligned with National Health Education Standards and available to use free of charge.

“The stresses, pressures and challenges of the past year have been tough on all of us, and it’s just one more layer for so many young people to have to deal with today,” said Hall, who also serves as executive producer and host of the series. “That’s why I believe so strongly in this project because it’s not only spreading joy and positivity, but it’s doing so through the stories, experiences and perspectives of some immensely talented, compassionate young people who want to make a difference. They’ve inspired me throughout the journey of filming this first season, and I’m so excited to share it with others.”

Each episode of "Hope Givers" spotlights an individual or group that has overcome adversity and focused on having a positive impact on their community. Profiles in the eight-episode first season include Mr. 2-17, an Atlanta-based, certified gold album artist who relies on positive lyrics to inspire children in his neighborhood, and Jefferson, Georgia’s Lily Moore, an actress and model with Down syndrome who stars in the hit Netflix series "Never Have I Ever" and speaks out against bullying.

Episodes also feature short original cartoons penned by Los Angeles-based Switchblade Comb Productions, student self-care activities performed in the "Hope Givers" studio, “Youth Across America” segments that showcase high school student-produced films across America, and musical performances from a diverse collection of artists in the Atlanta area.

GPB plans to make available a complementary learning curriculum that educators, counselors, nurses and social workers can use for a deeper dive into some of the topics being discussed in each episode.

For more information about the documentary series, visit hopegiversga.org. Learn more about the impact of CAES alumni and the CAES Alumni Association at caes.uga.edu/alumni.

Johnathan McGinty is a partner with The Trestle Collective, a creative services agency located in Athens, Georgia.