Kudos to Kids - Sam Judd / NZ Herald August 22 2014
Global problems, local solutions?
When it comes to environmental challenges, we constantly hear that solutions need to be locally owned.
Now I believe this is very much a great way to fix problems - those who are directly dealing with the issue are more likely to change their behaviour if they are part of the solution. This is the case with Enviroschools a very successful initiative that works with local council-employed supporters to reach over 240,000 children through schools and early childhood education centres.
Kudos to the kids
One thing we definitely know is that, while it is easy to switch off to environmental challenges by changing the channel, or closing a window on your browser, you can't easily switch off your kids.
The younger generation have become one of the most powerful change agents in local households - far before they reach the voting age kids will significantly influence their parents.
These days, small children are incredibly digitally literate and it is predicted that the next generation will be streaks ahead with regards to rapidly taking in knowledge.
While I am a bit uncomfortable to hear that children now struggle with books because they try to swipe the pages across like a touch screen, the better news is that statistically, the next generation are increasingly concerned about the state of the environment and people's wellbeing. This gives hope to those people amongst us who work hard to create a better environmental future for the young ones.
Kids can be the secret weapons in the war against bad behaviour by their parents, but to do this, we must utilise what works for them.
Lights, camera and action for good
A few years ago I was making an educational video and I wanted some underwater footage that would wow the kids. I contacted my old colleagues and good friends from Dive! Tutukaka (who are lucky enough to go diving in an epic visibility all the time) and they recommended a certain Steve Hathaway.
When I contacted Steve out of the blue, his passion literally erupted through the phone. He was super excited that his work would contribute to educating kids about looking after the ocean he loves and obliged with the most amazing footage I have ever seen in Kiwi waters.
We have used the same clips to change the behaviour of tens of thousands of children since - and we have actually proven that inspirational video content is one of the tools that works for changing kids behaviour.
Steve found this out first hand when he made a short film with his daughter for a school project - the kids (and their parents) were engaging with the content because it was fun and presented by a young person, for young people.
Many hands will make lights, camera and action work
Now Steve is arguably the best underwater videographer in New Zealand - his work has featured on National Geographic, BBC, Discovery Channel, TVNZ and he is one of the most experienced in the world at filming orca - but when it comes to speaking on screen, he is far out shadowed by his daughter Riley, who is clearly celebrity material in the making.
They have produced an inspiring series called Young Ocean Explorers (you can check out the episode in the following video), which has seen very high acclaim.
Their next mission is to produce books about the series and send them, along with the films to every school in New Zealand, so that those who haven't had the chance to experience the epic underwater life - which forms 93 percent of our fine territory - can be inspired to look after it.
I take my hat off to Riley and Steve and think that they deserve all the help they can get.
If you have any other examples of inspiring kids working in the environment, then send me an email or leave a comment.