Happy Earth Day to all our YouthBeat friends! Youth’s involvement in the environmental movement is, in some ways, both a timely and a timeless topic. Children and nature have been indelibly bonded in literature, social history and even psychology (with well-being often linked to children’s ability to connect with nature in positive ways). This cohort of youth certainly sees the environment as important, although in the past few years our YouthBeat data has shown kids’, tweens’ and teens’ concerns related to global warming to be waning. We know that this group is inundated by messages related to sustainable living, and that might be part of the problem. The normalization of green discourse means that environmental action might lack a sense of urgency surrounding it. So how can you make your messages matter to kids? Take a cue from these companies and organizations who are seizing this Earth Day as an opportunity for fun.
- Tree Fu Tom, featuring Sprout’s newest superhero, reminds preschoolers that nature is full of adventure. And Tree Fu Tom shows that kids don’t have to choose nature shows or adventure shows – they can get excitement alongside their environmentally friendly programming.
- Get creative. One way to encourage kids to recycle is to show them the bins…Another way? Remind them of all the great things you can make if you pay attention to the art tools available in your home…Check out Scrapkins’ site and the Scrapkins Collector app for inspiration.
- Put kids on the case. Saving energy starts at home, and kids love being put in charge of making positive change (and telling their parents and sibling what to do!). Check out the Energystar site, designed for kids, for ways to make environmental issues accessible for them. And remember, putting kids in charge makes getting things done less of a chore and more of a welcomed challenge.
- Inspire youth to take action. It might not sound like fun, but sometimes kids, tweens and teens need to know that doing the right thing can sometimes be recognized. The Children’s Environmental Health Network’s Nsedu Obot Witherspoon (NOW) Youth Leadership Award acknowledges tweens and teens who have engaged in good work surrounding the issue of children’s health issues caused by environmental problems. This organization acknowledges that their future depends on tweens and teens taking an interest in this important aspect of the sustainability story while reminding youth that their participation in the cause can reflect positively on them.
- Finally, focus on entertainment. Jack Johnson contributes to the cause by crafting a song that kids can’t help but sing: the “3 R’s song”. Enjoy!