Pass the popcorn! Let Them Eat Dirt movie premiere for CHILD Vancouver families

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Popcorn, prizes and photo ops were on the playbill for Vancouver-based CHILD Cohort Study families as they arrived at a special Movie Night on June 11, 2019.

Organized by the Vancouver CHILD Cohort Study research team, the event gave kids, siblings and parents a sneak peek screening of a new documentary called Let Them Eat Dirt, The Hunt for our Kids’ Missing Microbes, which features several CHILD Cohort Study researchers.

Arriving at the big screen inside BC Children’s Hospital Chan auditorium, the children received red-carpet treatment with balloons, t-shirts, colouring postcards, jellybean guessing games and an array of movie-theatre snacks. According to nine-year-old Vancouver study participants Sam Rose and Hazel Bartlett, the “whole thing was really fun” and the trailers shown before the film were “almost as good as the movie!”

“Before the movie started, they showed a video that Sam and I made to explain what kids in the study can expect during the eight-year-old clinical visit,” said Hazel.

Sam and Hazel’s video

A new animated science video highlighting the CHILD Cohort Study’s discoveries about an infant’s gut microbiome was also shown. “That video was really cool,” added Sam. “I liked the characters and it was easy to understand.”

CHILD Cohort Study researcher Dr. B. Brett Finlay and Study co-Director Dr. Stuart Turvey introduced Let Them Eat Dirt, in which they star with other international microbiome experts, including fellow CHILD Cohort Study investigators Drs Marie-Claire Arrieta (University of Calgary) and Meghan Azad (University of Manitoba).

Based on the bestselling book by Drs Finlay and Arrieta, the documentary explains how the millions of microbes that live on and in our bodies (the microbiome) influence childhood development; why an imbalance in the microbiome can lead to obesity, diabetes, or asthma, among other chronic conditions; and how parents can take concrete steps to positively impact their child’s long-term health.

Let Them Eat Dirt: The Hunt for our Kids’ Missing Microbes will be released across North America in 2019.

A question and answer session with Drs Turvey and Finlay following the movie was a highlight for both the families and the researchers. “I can’t believe how science-savvy these kids are,” remarked Dr. Finlay. “I was really impressed, particularly when a child asked if good microbes can become bad microbes and vice versa. That’s a pretty sophisticated question!”

“As a parent involved in the CHILD Study, I appreciate having opportunities like this to interact with the study staff and researchers outside of clinic appointments,” said Natasha Majdandzic.

“It solidifies my commitment to the Study and, for my daughter Emma, it keeps her having fun and coming back year after year.”