Representation opens the door to a world of possibilities!
Attorney turned founder Kya Johnson learned this firsthand by volunteering with elementary children during her spare time. While mentoring children, she would often expose them to positive images. Johnson soon realized helping children in this manner was not only a passion but an opportunity to do more for her community.
Nearly two years after visualizing a children’s driven platform, she successfully launched RainbowMe Kids in 2014. The platform aims to increase representation and diversity in children’s media.
“I wanted to create the company because I wanted to reach as many kids as possible and present content with positive images of main characters of color,” Johnson told AfroTech.
$10K Grant From BeyGOOD Foundation Supports AR Children's Book
RainbowMe Kids was supported by crowdfunding from family and friends to create a video demand platform.
During its early days, the children’s platform launched a few original shows and snagged licensing for content incorporating main characters of color. Johnson decided it was time to elevate the children’s experience after witnessing the impact of Pokemon Go which soared to popularity due to virtual reality.
“It was around 2017 when I first saw the Pokemon Go game. And that was also the first time that I recognized the augmented reality concept. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and knew there was something that we could do with that,” Johnson said.
The first augmented reality book to launch on RainbowMe Kids was “O is For Oshun,” which celebrates different folklore and fairy tale characters of color from around the globe. With the help of a smartphone, users can bring the characters to life and hear stories with dialects from their region.
The second augmented reality book was introduced following a $10,000 grant from Beyoncé and her BeyGOOD foundation in partnership with the NAACP that was created to strengthen Black-owned businesses, as AfroTech previously reported.
The book — titled “How Kofi Amero Became the Hero of Amero” — is an adaptation of a Ghanaian folklore tale taking readers on Kofi’s transformative journey as the richest man in his village.
“It is important that kids, in addition to seeing historical and present-day figures, see their princesses, their fairies, their kings, and their wizards so they can see superheroes that reflect who they are because it broadens the thought process of what is possible,” Johnson said.
Johnson Plans To Advance Interactive Experience
Children can look forward to more augmented reality books on the platform. In addition, Johnson plans to dive into the metaverse and to make it accessible to all children.
“I am excited to go beyond the boundaries [of] technology. There are ways to make the characters more interactive with the children. So, I’m interested in exploring that and also the popularity of the metaverse. There is going to be some introduction to the metaverse for the younger kids and I’m looking forward to being in that space of developing what that introduction looks like,” Johnson said.