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Childhood is supposed to be a special time in a person’s life. A time to grow and play, to explore and learn about the world. All children deserve a peaceful upbringing and the opportunity to pursue a meaningful life.

But today, extremists are abusing children and teaching them hatred and violence.

Christianne, Tania, Nicola, and Micah all suffered the heartbreaking loss of a family member due to extremism. Kids: Chasing Paradise follows their courageous journeys and their inspirational efforts in becoming champions of activism for children worldwide.

Kids: Chasing Paradise is a powerful documentary film that explores the personal stories of ordinary people becoming extraordinary activists to save children from radicalization.

Meet the Characters

Christianne Boudreau

Christianne Boudreau is a Canadian mother who was personally affected by the impact of the violent radicalization process: Her son Damian was killed while fighting for ISIS. She now coordinates the Mothers for Life network, which brings together mothers of radicalized jihadis to support one another and combat radicalization. Her story has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, CBC, ABC Australia, BBC and numerous other publications.

Tania Joya

Tania Joya is a former Islamist extremist from England who as a young girl dreamed of taking part in jihad. After moving to the US, she married a young Texan who was radicalized as a teenager and is currently active in ISIS. Tania and her ex-husband trained their four children to be jihadists and moved to Syria to fight for ISIS. While there, Tania’s worldview changed and she now embraces human rights and Western values. She and her children now live in Texas, and she works to spread awareness of the dangers of radicalization. She has been interviewed by CNN, BBC, Good Morning Britain, Daily Mail, NPR and numerous other publications.

MICAH LAKIN AVNI

Micah lost his father to a 20-year-old terrorist who entered a Jerusalem bus and shot and stabbed the passengers before blowing up the bus and himself. We meet Micah as he is meeting with a group of young Israeli Jews and Arabs at the Kids Creating Peace Center in Jerusalem. Micah became an activist in the wake of his shock upon discovering the many posts and videos in Arabic that were circulating on Palestinian media glorifying the terrorist and his murderous act.

Nicola Benyahia

Nicola Benyahia is a British woman who founded Families for Life, a nonprofit organization focused on deradicalization and support for families of young extremists. When Nicola’s son Rasheed unexpectedly joined ISIS, she found Christianne Boudreau and together they started a professional collaboration and personal friendship. She has been interviewed by the Independent, BBC and countless other publications for her work to stop radicalization of children.

Mohammed Ali

Mohammed Ali is a 14-year-old teenager in Iraq. He is being trained to be a member of a government-sanctioned paramilitary group, the PMF (Popular Mobilization Forces). The film features exclusive footage of his training and indoctrination.

MICHAEL “YOUNNES” DELEFORTRIE

Michael “Younnes” Delefortrie

Michael “Younnes” Delefortrie is a Belgian jihadi and former ISIS fighter currently in jail in Belgium. We interviewed him days before he was incarcerated.

Dominique Bons

Dominique Bons is a French woman whose son joined ISIS and was killed in Syria. Dominique decided something had to be done and in 2014 founded “Syrien ne bouge agissons” to start working on this issue and provide support to many families facing the same situation.

Mohammed Sheikh Eid

Mohammed Sheikh Eid is a 14-year-old boy in Gaza who attends an Islamist summer camp. We interviewed Mohammed, his parents and his trainers. The film features exclusive footage of his training and indoctrination.

From the Director, Wayne Kopping

Kids: Chasing Paradise takes an unflinching look at a tragic form of child abuse that very few people are speaking about: the radicalization of youth by Islamist extremists.

As we were developing the project, we decided that this was not going to be a political film. Because this is not a political issue.
This film is about children — the extremists who are exploiting them — and how it potentially impacts us all.

In order to get to the heart of this human rights crisis, we needed to side-step the politics and tell personal stories instead.

What followed was a journey of discovery that took us to 6 different countries. We were able to meet fascinating individuals on both sides of this complex issue — from the mercenary individuals who seek to weaponize the next generation, and the heroic individuals who work tirelessly to prevent it.

We were also fortunate to gain rare access to highly restricted areas in Gaza and Iraq. There, we were able to follow the personal lives of two child soldiers — and follow them as they are groomed for war in the infamous military training camps.

It’s our hope that by framing this deeply nuanced issue through the prism of human stories, audiences will be able to grasp the true scope of this challenge — and be moved to do something about it.

Watch and share Avatar and Kids: Chasing Paradise with everyone you know to help us stop online radicalization from happening to our youth.

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