News & Views - December, 2001 Issue #88
LIFE BEGINS -
An Amazing Multimedia Journey: Conception to Birth
Quality Multi-Media, L.C.
Reviewed by Loi Eberle, M.A.,
Educational Consultant & Editor of Woodbury Reports
The expression “knowledge is power” comes to mind as I reflect on my experience
while interacting with the multimedia production: LIFE Begins. Being able to witness the process of life from its inception through
fetal development, birth, maturation, and eventually, reproduction of itself can indeed be inspiring. The more complete and accurate
the description of this amazing process, the more of its miraculous nature is revealed. This is especially true when the presentation
includes videos and animations of ovulation, fertilization and a pulsating fetus. Hopefully such a display will also inspire more
respect for the capabilities and responsibilities of one’s physical body.
This is the hope of producer, Gordon Harkness. This former singer was inspired by Neilson’s ground-breaking photography of the fetus,
which eventually led to the creation of LIFE Begins. Harkness created Quality Multimedia essentially as a Mom and Pop operation with
the obvious goal of quality, its product, a labor of love. As part of the process of producing LIFE Begins, he hired writers, animators
and programmers. He obtained rights to include 38 minutes of video clips from the ABC/KANE: award winning documentary, “Journey into
Life: World of the Unborn”, which uses Neilson’s photography. The LIFE Begins multimedia presentation also includes 176 anatomical
illustrations, 676 photographs and illustrations, and 13 slide shows. Dr. Kent Van De Graaff, who has written and edited seven college
level anatomy textbooks for McGraw Hill, wrote the instructional material, which contains six main sections with various related subjects
that play an important part in creation and development. The final section, Life Choices, helps young people apply this knowledge
with topics that deal with character-building.
The Director of Curriculum of the Jordan School District in Utah helped develop the “Life Choices” segment. She interviewed many students
about the pressures to have sex and effective strategies to avoid being pressured into a situation for which they do not feel ready.
Harkness explained to me that as a result of many interviews with students, he became aware of how a person’s self-esteem plummets
upon the realization that she or he has been used for sexual reasons. The Life Choices segment of the program does not have the same
level of multimedia production as the other more instructional segments of the program. It does, however, use vocal and pictorial
representations of fairly true to life situations, and discusses relevant strategies for scenarios that many adolescents encounter.
Quality Media has already updated this segment to maintain a contemporary look.
LIFE Begins also has a lockout feature, since it supplies detailed, anatomically accurate descriptions of biological functions that
are appropriate when used in college-level nursing courses, but are perhaps too advanced for younger children. This feature enables
complete parental control over the content, which can be modified at any time. Their promotional material explains it “does not discuss
controversial subjects such as alternative life styles, abortion, contraception, etc.” Harkness mentioned some school systems that
are not permitted to discuss contraception, appreciate LIFE Begins for that reason. He said some groups choose to provide their own
contraception information as a supplement.
This multimedia production presents accurate clinical information in a way that can stimulate both a thoughtful discussion of choices,
as well as a tremendous sense of wonder and respect for the gift of life.