Oscar Is Worthy! See Chimpanzee, Support Jane Goodall’s Work

April 18, 2012 No secret I’m a fan of all creatures great and small, wildly applauding every effort to impart nature’s magnificence to 21st century kids.

Whether it’s the brand new launch of TiltWorld’s app (fun little Flip the frog on an eco-mission to make real world change in climate chaos) or Richard Louv’s Children and Nature Network (C&NN awarded $100K Disney grant!) or Disney Nature’s NEW film Chimpanzee tugging on heartstrings with REAL LIFE orphan Oscar the chimpanzee, (opens Fri, Apr. 20)…I see media as a “distribution channel” to get kids engaged, informed, ramped and amped with eco-literacy to be stewards of our planet.

I was fortunate to be at the 2009 U.S. red carpet premiere of Earth (report from our “tween team” attending DisneyNature’s Earth) which went on to yield an impressive $108 million (the first of four in their nature series) though as I wrote in this piece “When Art Meets Earth: Wyland Ocean Murals Inspire Kids to Care the film itself is one of MANY media launch points to create an environment of connection and concern in real life so kids can carry forth and help sustain this ol’ blue marble of a planet.

Chimpanzee has already prompted visceral ‘awwws’ in my household and ‘gotta support’ weekend opening plan changes as well…Though Disney Nature’s donation of “20cents per ticket, one week only, April 20-26″ seems like chump change for chimps, I’m not about to let an opportunity go by to support Jane Goodall’s amazing work. (hope it’s such a huge hit that megabucks Disney extends the donation longer in a more sustainable way!)


As an avid JGI Roots and Shoots kids club member and Jane Goodall Institute fan, I’ve long heralded her as one of my all time favorite “Sheroes”  as you can see by this tribute, Inspiring Kids As Stewards of the Planet.

If Dr. Goodall says DisneyNature “got it right” depicting the intimate family dynamics of the chimpanzees over three years of amazing footage, then I’ll forego some of my cringe-worthy Disney commercialism observations like the naming of the rival chimp tribe leader as ‘Scar’ (conjuring Lion King emotional baggage and mixing up fantasy with reality in stereotyped splendor) and instead take her lead in graciousness and gratitude. (Hollywood Reporter review resonates with me on that “Scar” media analysis note as discordant)

We’ve seen how embedding eco-messaging in films like Hoot, Ice Age, Over the Hedge and such helps by ‘Shaping Youth Through Nature’ to “turn kids green” fast, (whether it’s sustainable is a different conversation, here’s one teen’s view on “Using Eco as an Equalizer” among green teens) so I’m hoping Chimpanzee ratchets that emotion up a notch in ‘reality TV mode’ since there’s nothing quite like truth “IRL” (in real life) to paint with poignant brushstrokes of drama, perseverance, hope and spirit when it comes to storytelling.

Even if they ‘Disney it up’ (and early reviews have applauded authenticity–Dr. Goodall is the leader of the pack there!) there’s no discounting the plight of an endangered jungle orphan in real life, and I have high hopes kids will SEE the interconnectedness of the sentient beings, witness their struggles and collaborative efforts for survival and heed the preciousness of chimpanzee altruism raising the bar on our OWN ethical and moral place in humanity.

I for one will be in line this opening weekend with teens in tow, to ensure the money is donated to Jane Goodall’s Institute for the protection of chimpanzees, as their population in the wild has markedly decreased from one million in 1960 to merely one fifth of that figure…can’t wait to see it!


“Dad Chat” founder and colleague Bruce Sallan has been lucky enough to swing tickets already (hey, he lives in L.A.) so here’s his Dad’s Point of View (below) with media insight through a gender lens that frames the positive depiction of MALES in the film. (about time guys got some props/kudos!)

Join Bruce in his weekly Dad Chat on Twitter from 6-7pm PST. This week he’ll be co-hosting with Carrie Wilkerson on the topic, “Can You Balance It All?”  (If you’re goin’ ape with workload, you might want to catch this one) Enjoy his wit and wisdom, below, and be sure to catch the eco links and resources after the videos for ways to see, save and support Chimpanzees.

Great Video Via GOOD Environment Jane Goodall Institute Videographer Chats About Inspiration

Chimpanzee: An Ironic Father-Son Story #IRL

(In Real Life) 


By Bruce Sallan

I’ve often dissed Hollywood and Madison Avenue for their depictions of dads, and men in general, for that matter. It is still not optimal, but it is changing for the better.

How surprising to me that the best current portrayal of a father-son relationship came in a documentary about chimpanzees!

Yes, the DisneyNature movie, “Chimpanzee,” does their usual Disney formula of killing off a parent. But, this time it’s mom and this time dad steps up. Not reluctantly, but with pride and purpose. And, this time it was real and not a writer’s choice.

I loved the movie. I loved how they captured the family structure, world, and highs and lows of life in the rain forest. And, no they did not choose the story – the story chose them. It was indeed #IRL – In Real Life to use a common acronym that is bandied about.

Dad bloggers and other cultural pundits have correctly observed that Hollywood tends to portray dads in a doltish fashion.

Somewhere along the way, maybe with the evolution of the PC Police, dads became the butt of jokes. If you touch a woman or a mom, the army of mom bloggers and mainstream media will hammer you. But, dads…we’re okay to ridicule.

Thankfully, we’re not just getting Al Bundy, Homer Simpson, and the like anymore.

There have been recent GREAT ads by Volkswagen and Clorox in which dads were cool, competent, and smart. More will be coming. Hollywood will follow because Hollywood really has no moral compass other than profits. For that matter, neither does Madison Avenue. This is not meant to disparage these fine commercial institutions, but just to recognize that most of corporate America is morally neutral. You can argue otherwise, but I’ll leave that to the comments section below.

I also love the ironic choice of names for the stars of “Chimpanzee.” The baby boy chimp was named, Oscar.

The adult male that adopts Oscar is Freddie and the evil rival chimp leader is Scar. I thought choosing Scar was a weak name choice, given that name was so effectively used in “The Lion King.”

Why is Oscar an ironic choice? Well, Oscar was one of the two lead character names in Neil Simon’s great play/movie/TV series, “The Odd Couple.”

I loved Oscar in every incarnation of that great play and I love that the adorable and somewhat rascally baby chimp in “Chimpanzee” shares that name.

I wonder if the filmmakers saw the parallel? What was so encouraging about the portrayal of Freddie and Oscar’s burgeoning relationship was that it avoided the usual pitfalls of the dumb dad. Yes, they could only manipulate the story so much, but given the narration they had many opportunities to have made fun of Freddie and his parental choices, especially since he was an adoptive father.

The word, “Irony,” keeps coming to mind when I think about this loving portrayal of father and adopted son.

How ironic that this big studio movie may be the first recent one that does this portrayal with such respect for the father’s role.

In fact, the genders could have easily been reversed as there was little-to-no sexism portrayed in the movie. I love and so respect that.

Maybe we are finally moving to the right place in media’s discussion and depictions of parenting. It isn’t what’s between your legs that determine a good parent; it’s what’s between your ears and in your heart.

I still assert that men and women inherently will approach parenting and, most things for that matter, in different ways. But, instead of making one right and the other wrong, let’s look for the good in both.

And, when we’re having fun at a parent’s expense – and there’s plenty of opportunity for humor – let’s choose the humor rather than the gender in how we portray dads and moms. I didn’t love the movie “Bridesmaids” because I don’t care for crude humor, but I did love that for once, it seemed, women were the butt of the jokes and portrayed as goofballs, too. The box office success of that movie only reinforces that that choice reached out to everyone without the need to focus negatively on one gender.

“Chimpanzee” is simply a remarkable movie.

At the end of it, there are some short clips with the filmmakers, in which you get a taste of the hardships they endured over several years to capture the 120 minutes of this spectacular film. In ironic ways, they lived some of the hardships of being a parent. They endured the highs and lows parents experience, and watched and filmed an unfolding story in which they did not know the outcome. I can’t imagine enduring their journey but I am so grateful that they took it.

—Bruce Sallan, From A Dad’s Point of View


Chimpanzee Opens April 20, 2012

Chimpanzee Educator Guide (download, grades 2-6)

Jane Goodall Institute is hosting a series of Web chats running April 4 – April 24, 2012 with experts in chimpanzee behavior and conservation, as well as youth education.

For everyone who sees Disneynature CHIMPANZEE during opening week (April 20-April 26, 2012), Disneynature will contribute $.20 per ticket to the Jane Goodall Institute for the Disneynature Tchimpounga Nature Reserve Project with a minimum of $100,000 pledged to this program. www.janegoodall.org

Fast Facts About Chimpanzees (JGI)

JGI Conservation: State of the Wild Chimpanzee

A Few Related Kid-Friendly Eco-Picks by Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth

40 Kids Eco-Links Worth Recycling to Friends

How To Turn People Green

Inspiring Kids As Stewards of the Planet

Inspiring Kids With Green Media

Get ‘Em Outside!

The Great Turtle Race

When Art Meets Earth: Wyland’s Murals Inspire Kids to Care

350.org: Edu & Eco Activism for Int’l Climate Change

Kids Bring Home the Message to Cool the Earth

Spring Break Sanctuary 2010 Media Unplugged on Catalina

Hope Is On The Horizon When Movements Go Mainstream

Green Teen Videos On Climate Change: Global Challenge

Climate Change Chocolate, TerraPass E-Cause Animation…

Teen Scene: Eco-Concerts

Coen Brothers Ad For Clean Coal Air Freshener (kids faves!)

Disney Nature’s EARTH movie: Our Teen Team’s Take

International Day of Peace to Reach and Teach

Green Grades Report Cards: Forest Ethics

One Teen’s View: Use Eco As An Equalizer

Project Green Dorm: Engaging Youth Via Teens Turning Green

S.F. Oil Spill Prompts Altruism & Activism in Kids

Nature Rocks: Reconnecting Families with Planet Earth!

Shaping Youth Joins Eco-Literacy Coalition: NCLI

Kid-Vid & Media Games Galore (+How Stuff Works/eco)

Planting Earthseeds Via The Magic School Bus

New Media Worldometers Help Data Click With Kids

Media Savvy Kids and Nature Deficit Disorder

The Nature of Tweens: Wired Worlds & Outdoor Ed

Shaping Youth Through Nature, Media Unplugged

Kids Plant Virtual Trees to Benefit REAL Trees in Dizzywood

Get Kids to Eat Green: Using Shrek Against His Drek

Seeding Virtual Worlds: Kids Going Green in Dizzywood

Nim’s Island: Shaping Youth Through Imagination & Adventure

When Green Gets Jaded: Marketing Hope to Kids

Elf Island: A Virtual World To Be Wild About

Elf  Island GoodQuest to Help Polar Bears

Can Somethin’ Be Done About All This Consumption?

Earth Hour & Kids +Virtual Walk for Water

Kids’ Gardening, Spring Break & the Seinfeld Equinox

If Kids Could Be Dolphins: The Power of Creative Play

Greentrepreneurs: Recycle Bank Shows Kids it Pays to Be Green

What’s A Kids Party Without Piles of Presents? EchoAge

Shaping Youth in Semi-Finals For Echoing Green Fellowship

S.F. Oil Spill Prompts Altruism & Activism in Kids

New Media Worldometers Help Data Click With Kids

Eco-Friendly Electronics, Go Green With Your Wired World

The 11th Hour: Leonardo DiCaprio’s New Documentary

5th International Symposium/Youth Collaboratory: Digital Earth

Green Media & Electric Cars: New Energy Shaping Youth

Care2 Make A Difference? Social Media/Kids

Digital Activism: Kids Stump for Change (World Wildlife Fund)

Youth Atwitter On LiveEarth Concert 7-07-07

Marketing Mindfulness to Kids

Planting Earthseeds Via The Magic School Bus

Fun & Games: Eco-Interactives To Impart Informal Learning, Eco-Literacy Kids Love

Name That Greenwashing Sin (Game for eco-literacy!)

Seussville Lorax: Interactive Save the Trees Game (simple, NON-commercialized game, NOT movie!)

Heal the Bay Interactive to ‘Trash Your Friends,’ Learn About Marine Life

The Great Turtle Race (Game/Nat’l Geo Kids)

Meet the Greens, (pbskids games/activities/interactives)

My Daddy Taught Me To Surf (eco book w/portion of proceeds to the Surfrider Foundation, –post forthcoming and giveaway for Mother’s Day…”My Mommy Taught Me How to Surf!” )


Habitat Heroes.com

EcoBuddies.com (ages 6-13 virtual world) & Earth Day blog

PlanIt Green (Nat’l Geo games)

KidsRgreen.org (puzzles/games CEE)

Nature Rocks: Reconnecting Families w/Planet Earth!

Migratory Max:  Wilderness Society

Inconvenient Youth.org (Cool People Care)

UNEP interactives for kids

Discover The Forest.org (USFS/getting tweens into nature)

Climate Kids: NASA’s Eye on the Earth (big questions) AND Kids’ Games

Shaping Youth: Kid-Vid & Media Games Galore (+How Stuff Works/eco)




  1. Thx so much for the kind words and inclusion of my column about “Chimpanzee” Amy…I meant every word!

  2. As a huge animal lover and supporter im anxious to see Disneys movie Chimpanzee…the analogies to parenting for men and women sound very interesting….moms and dads definitely have different perspectives and skills…loved the story and blog..

  3. The Seven Passes Initiative: Crime Prevention through youth development

    Seven Passes Initiative
    Cedrick Buys
    Tel: 044 8501267/ 0727278346
    PO Box 155
    NPO Registration Number: 065-133-NPO

    The Seven Passes Initiative


    The Seven Passes Initiative is a youth development and educational organisation that seeks to prevent youth involvement in crime through providing quality after school care. We do this through homework clubs and other educational activities, including sport, music and drama. The Initiative works towards long-term poverty alleviation through raising the educational level of the community.

    The Seven Passes Initiative is a community-based organisation located in Touwsranten in the Southern Cape. The organisation serves disadvantaged youth in the area, and has been doing so since 2008.

    We provide daily homework classes during the week (Monday-Thursday) which are open to all children within Touwsranten and the wider community.
    Background to the Seven Passes Initiative

    The Seven Passes Initiative was established in 2008 by commercial farmers and members of the community of Touwrsranten/Hoekwil who were concerned by the increase in anti-social behaviour by youth in the area, in particular an increase in gang activity on the farms. A number of factors contributed to the increase in gang involvement by the youth, including:

    •Boredom caused by an absence of interesting or stimulating activities
    •Absence of adult or parental supervision during daytimes and weekends
    •Absence of positive role models
    •Children were struggling at school and were not able to get adequate supervision of their homework, this led to low self-esteem and a loss of hope for the future or lack of positive ambition

    The Initiative focuses on supporting, facilitating and developing the education of children in the area. We provide after-school activities that foster a sense of belonging, fun and that build life skills. It was shown by a recent survey undertaken by the Centre for Justice and Crime Prevention that completing Grade 12, placing priority on excelling at school and wanting to study further beyond school; and working hard to obtain good marks were extremely influential factors in creating resilience amongst youth to involvement in crime.

    The purpose of the project is therefore to:

    Create the conditions where children can achieve better at school
    Assist young people to develop long-term goals and provide opportunities for them to realise these goals
    Provide positive role models for young people
    Reduce youth involvement in crime
    Provide regular and reliable opportunities for young people to get help with their school work so that they can achieve their long-term goals.
    Create opportunities for young people and to encourage and assist them to recognise and take advantage of those opportunities.
    The Initiative is actively involved in the community through our daily activities such as homework and computer classes. Our office is centrally located in the community and our staff work closely with the learners and their parents.

    We offer learners a safe space for educational and learning activities thereby preventing boredom and increasing opportunity. It has been shown that the learners who do well at school are those that feel supported and have strong family bonds. This is what we seek to foster.

    The after school activities of the Seven Passes Initiative extend beyond homework classes, to extra classes for high school students, study support groups, as well as sport and other activities.

    We keep attendance registers of all our activties and are thus able to monitor participation.

    Over the past three years we have seen an increase in the numbers of children to participate in our voluntary homework classes, extra classes and other activties. In 2008 we had between 20 and 30 children attending classes regularly. By 2011 that had increased to over 300 attendees over the year.

    In addtion, we have seen increased parental involvement in their children’s activities: When we held our first annual prize-giving function at the end of 2009 there were very few parents present – (five at most). When we held our annual prize-giving in 2010 over 100 parents participated and had the opportunity to watch and appreciate the performance of their children. Our 2011 year-end function was attended by over 300 children and 100 parents. Increased parental involvement and support in their children’s activities are directly related to the children’s achievement of their academic and personal goals.

    The children in the community we serve live far from town, don’t have access to recreational facilities and don’t have the opportunity to go out to have new experiences. Exposure to new experiences (even if they are local) and people is vital to increasing children’s self-esteem and confidence, as well as their perceptions of possibilities. Through the holiday programmes we have enabled the children to participate in activities that increase their world view, and expanded their horizons.

    Measuring the impact of this is difficult, as we are likely only to be able to see the results in some years to come. However, the fact that we have consistenly had young people leaving our homework classes after matric to go on to further study – something which did not take place so commonly before we started working in this area – is evidence of the effect of the combination of our activties.

    Need for a meal
    Our homework classes are regularly attended by an average of 150 primary school children per session. These classes are overseen twice weekly by 29 volunteers from the Tsiba Eden Campus and twice weekly by 6 volunteers from within the Touwsranten community.
    In addition, we provide 10 children with sailing lessons every Saturday.
    The Seven passes initiative also offers holiday programmes every school holiday which are open to all youth in the greater community. Activities include canoeing and hiking adventures, outings to sporting and other events hosted for the youth and educational excursions.

    The majority of children attending our classes are from families where atleast one parent is not working. According to a 2010 study analysed by UNICEF 21% of children living in households such as those found in Touwsranten experience hunger due to shortage of food.

    Our volunteers from Touwsranten are all bursary students at the South Cape College in George, the meal we provide at the end of each class is often the only meal that they have that day.

    Project Implementation Plan
    The following plan provides an overview of our activities during 2012 and demonstrates the need for relaiable and safe transport.

    Number of Beneficiaries
    Time Frame
    Results (What we
    want to achieve)
    Resources Needed

    Homework classes
    At least 150 children attend homework classes regularly
    6 Volunteers from Touwsranten
    Homework classes are offered every afternoon between 4 and 6pm

    Improved attitudies towards education and school.
    Improved academics results.
    Meals for Volunteers and learners

    Holiday programme
    At least 150 children and parents engaged in activities during each of the four school holidays
    Activities offered and co-ordinated during each of the four school holidays during the year
    Improved self esteem
    Improved exposure to experiences and opportunities outside of the rural community in which we live
    Access to learning opportunities such as team work, improved parent/child relationships
    Preventing boredom
    Strengthen families, involve parents in activities
    Meals for Volunteers and learners/participants

  4. Dear Cedrick, in social media, we try to leave comments pertaining to our orgs and causes that fit into the subject matter by opening up conversations rather than just ‘data dumping’ whatever mission or cause or purpose your org may serve…so even though this was flagged as ‘spam’ I’m going to leave this up assuming you’re “learning the ropes” and just trying to link your info to eyeballs of people that might discover like-minded worthy, well-intentioned orgs, as it appears you’re doing some interesting work!

    That said, I’d urge you to read through posts and pick and choose platforms that serve your interests even more and get to know the audience and the people involved through chatting in Web2.0 dialog; it will be much more fun and fruitful for all! Thanks. –Amy

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