Winnipeg father of two Tyler Walsh has truly mastered the whole working-from-home-while-entertaining-the-kids juggling act.
The digital content and marketing manager and his sons, Jack, 12, and Noah, nine, just spent the past couple of weeks in quarantine recreating Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s March 22 COVID-19 message to children in a LEGO stop-motion animation.
“One thing about being cooped up in your house is it allows you to have some time for creativity,” Walsh told HuffPost Canada.
When he saw Trudeau address Canada’s kids in his daily briefing, Walsh was impressed. “I thought it was really poignant and had a strong message,” Walsh said.
In his address, Trudeau gives a “special thanks to all you kids. Thank you for helping your parents work from home, for sacrificing your usual day, for doing math class around the kitchen table. And for trusting in science.”
Walsh thought Trudeau rightly used his platform to speak directly to kids. “Being able to enhance his message and wrap it up in a way that kids want to watch it and enjoy seemed like a pretty neat thing for me and the boys to try and do.”
Walsh, who first tried his hand at stop-motion LEGO animation while working for the Winnipeg Free Press, set his sons to work, sourcing all the characters and the elements for the sets.
“I’d say, ‘I need a sad kid,’ and they would find it for me,” he said.
In what’s a fitting metaphor for our times, sometimes the boys had to make do with whatever they had at home. “We had a good chat over Trudeau’s hair, and we ended up going for pink hair, which was the right style but the wrong colour, then I painted it brown and black.” Fortunately, they found a figure that already had facial hair, so no touch-up was required in the scruff department.
And many friends of the family spotted a sweet detail: the Walsh family actually makes a cameo, with blonde-haired Mom and brown-haired Dad sitting at the table with their plastic sons.
Walsh received a personalized thank you tweet from Trudeau, on April 6, for helping to spread the message. The Canadian prime minister and dad-of-three said he thought his and “a whole lot of others” would “get a kick out of this.”
And the creative Winnipeg dad has been equally thrilled to receive so much positive feedback from fellow Canadian parents on the viral video. “They’re saying things like, ‘Thank you for posting this ... my kids and I have watched it three times!’”
One YouTube commenter wrote,“My 8YO watched it again and said, ‘I like how they made it less scary.’ So, well done!”
The official LEGO Twitter account shared the video, with a cute caption crafted by Huxley, one of the social media team’s kids.
Walsh has also received messages from educators, asking for permission to use the video in their virtual lessons.
As is the global norm these days, the family pet tried to get in on the video action. “We have a room downstairs dedicated to our projects, and after I left the door open for a minute, the cat ran in and jumped on the table, where our LEGO sets were,” Walsh said. Fortunately, it fled the crime scene after a good shoo-ing.
The Walsh boys are enjoying seeing their hard work go viral ― even at this time when most things viral are Public Enemy No. 1. “We posted the animation yesterday afternoon, and every time I gave them an update they were excited,” said Walsh. “It was at 150,000 this morning, so that was pretty darned cool.”
This post has been updated to include comments from Justin Trudeau.
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