PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – KOIN 6 News is exploring kids’ views on current events with a new 10-episode series “Kids Speak Out: Oregon.”

The town hall-style discussion with kids will delve into their views on homelessness, crime, gender identity and other major issues in the community.

Series Host and Emmy Award-winning journalist Barbara Harrison said the series was inspired by her previous conversations with kids in Washington.

“I’ve done a lot of things with kids over the years in the Washington area, where I’ve anchored the news for many years. When the pandemic hit, I thought, ‘I wonder what kids are doing? What are they talking about?’ I started making some calls and kids said they wanted to join in this Zoom conversation I was going to have on a weekly basis,” Harrison explained.

The program became so popular that parents in other states asked if their kids could be involved before expanding into a worldwide program.

“I found that kids were really frustrated. They had things they wanted to say, to complain about,” Harrison said. “If you read some of the psychology magazines, you see that kids are really struggling right now with mental health issues, and so we get into that. We ask the kids, ‘What bothers you? What are you worried about?’ And you would be surprised at the long list of things that are on their minds and they’re happy to be able to talk about it and to express themselves.”

Harrison says the series gives children a voice and the chance to hear perspectives from other kids.

“I think that a lot of people who are older think that we might be introducing subjects to kids that they are not already talking about. Well, they’re wrong,” Harrison added.

The show premiers Thursday, June 8 at 7 p.m. on KOIN 6 News and will re-air 6:30 p.m. Sunday on Portland’s CW.