In many ways, Joshua Bynum is like any other third-grader. He likes science and studying about space. He enjoys running around outside and having fun.
Like a lot of kids, he also had big dreams: He wanted to live with his mom all the time and go to school in his own neighborhood.
But he couldn't because outside his window in Baltimore, Maryland, there were scary people (bigger kids who might hurt you if you didn't do what they said) and scary things (gunshots in the night). Joshua cried every Sunday when he had to leave his mom and go back to his grandmother's house, where he lived during the week so that he could attend a better school.
When the Learning Channel gave Joshua a video camera and told him to use it to tell what his childhood was like, the result was a powerful story of one 7-year-old's world and his dreams for a better life.
Joshua's story is part of a new TV series called "My Life as a Child" that begins Monday night at 7 and will air for six weeks. The Learning Channel gave Joshua and 19 other kids ages 7 through 12 video cameras for four months each.
On the first show, Joshua and two other boys tell their stories: Marc, who at 7 is already a concert pianist practicing six to eight hours a day; and 8-year-old Cole, who studies karate but can't walk because of a brain injury.
The kids are very honest when telling their stories.
Even Joshua's mom, Nicole Bynum, learned a lot about her son from his video. "He felt the same way as I did about where we were living," she said. "He felt the same way as I did in not liking it, but I didn't know the extent to which it affected him."
By watching the video, she also got a deeper understanding of how much Joshua loves her.
Joshua is 8 now. This month he and his mom moved to a safer neighborhood in Baltimore. Now they can stay together during the week. That makes him very happy.
"My new home is nice," he told KidsPost. "I have my own room, which is great. It's safe. I don't have to be afraid to go outside. And I'm with my mommy."
That is the most important thing to him. He hasn't seen his dad in two years, which makes him very sad.
Joshua said that telling his story wasn't hard: "I just talked about my life."
"I usually do express my feelings with my mother," he said, "but I expressed them a little more with the camera."
He had never used a video camera before, but a producer for the series "showed me what the buttons were for and had me practice," he said. When he wanted to talk directly to the camera, he used a tripod or had his mom or grandmother hold the camera.
He likes how his video turned out. And he loved that the Learning Channel flew him and his mom to Los Angeles, California, to tell his story to some reporters who write about television.
"I got to live in a really nice hotel for three days," he said. "I really enjoyed myself. I got to meet the people who did 'My Life as a Child.' We became really good friends."
Joshua likes to write and act. He's writing a play about some kids who get locked in a school as it's closing for vacation. He has no complaints about his new school but wishes the principal knew his name.
After his story appears on TV, she probably will.
-- Ellen Edwards