Inspire Kids With Green Media: Kid-Vid & Games Galore

earth-day-2007-200-200.jpgWhen sweet little faces ask dauntingly sad questions like, “Will we drown when the ice caps melt?” or “How do rainforests work, and where will the animals go, mom?” Be ready with simple, educated answers from How Stuff Works.

They offer gazillions of ideas to put a positive spin on how youth can become part of the planet patrol, just in time for Earth Day life lessons this week. (yes, this is a resource roundup, though my editorial comments follow!)

Check out Ten Ways To Save the Earth, along with video snippets on hybrids, electric cars and a fun clip on the EV Challenge, showing middle schoolers racing mini-solar car creations and high schoolers revving up their electric large scale versions.

Kids love edutainment? At the BBC Scotland site, they can become environmental agents of the Environmental Intelligence Unit, “spy kids style.” NASA Kids’ Club has all kinds of planetary science games and rocket stuff too, plus a nice little video on the necessity of water.

If you can manage to play dodgeball against the pop-up ads on Kaboose, they have tons of interactives, from shockwave games like The Lorax Saves The Tree and the EPA’s Dumptown to recycling puzzles, bird habitat games, animal cartoon builders and kids’ crafts. (those ladybugs “rock!”)

Earth awareness educators will LOVE Teach-nology’s web portal at EarthBalloon, which is overwhelming with its roundup of resource links. Then there’s the jeopardy style 101 Amazing Earth Facts Game which skews to any age range, and Sesame Workshop’s ‘Growing Together on Earth Day’ links.

Teens? Check Teens4PlanetEarth, the Students for a Sustainable Future, the 17 countries involved with the One World Youth Project, EarthWatch Institute’s Teen Turtle Team or Earth Island Institute’s CodenameTiger to “distribute digital media pertaining to youth-created solutions to community and global crises.” (fancy way to say, “let’s show ’em how to make it happen”)

Oh! And remember when we wrote about marketing hope with the Digital Earth Symposium and green video contest at Convenient Truths? Well, the winning movies are in, and they’re fun, free, and green! The adorable music video, “Little Guy” took the grand prize.

Speaking of little guys, don’t forget earth activities and sing-along-songs like “reduce, reuse, recyle sung to Itsy Bitsy Spider.”

EarthDay music on MySpace offers an open resource site encouraging original submissions where you can align with all kinds of green friends…Treehugger also has great picks for eco-friendly social networking spots, and you’ll find more on aggregated hubs like Greenedia. There are eco-tribes of all kinds, including free swap sites to trade goods in ‘new to you’ style, like eSwapIt. Overwhelmed yet?

Don’t forget the obvious channels like CurrentTV’s Earth pod, ThinkMTV’s environmental clips, and the Green TV channel in beta that’s partnering with UNEP (United Nation’s Environmental Programme) that has specialized hubs for Kids and Teens.

Youth leaders of GreenTeams are also launching media creations like The Green Screen TV. As youth forums, radio, podcasts and shows like the Lazy Environmentalist gain traction, one has to ask the million dollar question, “yes, but is it working?”

Articles like this recent Canadian poll of close to 2000 teens show the majority felt it was ‘too hard’ to put eco-consciousness into practice. 77% of them don’t turn off the computer when it’s unused, 44% don’t always separate recycling from trash, and only 41% reuse their water bottles. Hmn.

Does this mean kids are talking a good game but not acting upon it? Engaging in causes for social reasons, but not following through in pragmatics? What’s happening in YOUR home?

I know I’m TOTALLY guilty of the ‘always wired’ media environment, but am steadfast in vigilance in the ‘reduce, reuse, recycle’ realm.

Many of the tweens in our Shaping Youth pilot program with EarthSeeds fit the Canadian survey findings too, despite the fact that they were a self-selecting group of eco-Crewmember participants, and actually had to earn entry into the ‘club’ with an essay and weekly duties for the planet! (and yes, they were also the ones squirming at Inconvenient Truth in this post

Seems the origins of Earth Day are clear as mud to many, the sustainability actions are often rhetoric over reality…and though media, marketing and mindfulness is converging with youth, we’ve got some bipolarism in youth pop culture as consumerism rams heads with recycling.

I’m going to stay optimistic and accentuate the positive with a colossal dose of green media here to get kids to ‘turn green’ that are on the cusp or inconsistent, and feed the passions of those that already are…

BUT we need to remind all ages that Earth Day is not a once a year shindig to oooh and ahhh at giant globes then backslide into ‘casual crusader’ mode the remainder of the year. Kinda reminds me of my granola chomping, trail mix toting, wheat germ snarfing brother who’d ping on me during my college dorm days and admonish me for M&M Peanut candy as he grabbed a handful heading out the door.

No can do, folks. It’s not a one day gig.

That said, coast to coast, events are ramping up to be a doozy. In New York, Grand Central looks like quite an earth soirée. And the EPA has Regional events listed by sector (S.F. Bay Area is “Region 9: Pacific Southwest” which includes Ca., Az., Ne., Hi., and Guam) so you can probably find nearby events with ease if you’re in the USA.

I’ll admit I’m turning a bit green from all the marketing, and not the eco-kind…

SO…I’ll cluck like a mother hen and scratch up some earth seeds to remind that media’s a fabulous springboard to make going green a scalable movement…but nothing beats unplugging altogether for a simple eco-picnic and clean-up with kids to share the message of the great outdoors. Enjoy!

P.S. Please ping us with updates of what’s happening in your home…are kids eco-savvy earlier? Are corporations getting on the bandwagon for ‘greenwashing’ or is there genuine, sustainable momentum here? Do the kids (and companies) follow through? Do you?

Sound off…how can we best make environmental messaging “stick” among all generations on a global scale? Ideas?

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