New York, NY (June 10, 2009)- Children in the U.S. spend fifty percent less time outdoors than they did twenty years ago, according to the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan. In an effort to encourage children and their parents to re-connect with nature, the U.S. Forest Service is joining the Ad Council today to launch a national multimedia public service advertising (PSA) campaign.
U.S. Forest Service Chief Gail Kimbell will unveil the campaign on June 13 at Denver City Park to coincide with National Get Outdoors Day. The PSAs will be distributed to media outlets nationwide this week. The campaign primarily aims to reach “tweens” (children aged 8-12) and their parents. The goal is to encourage children to get outside and experience nature first-hand, instilling a life-long love for nature by fostering a connection with urban and national forests.
Children spend less time outdoors due to safety concerns, an increase in the number of working parents and the development of new technologies that capture free time indoors. As a result of this limited interaction with the outdoors, many children are unaware of the benefits that nature provides, including improving their physical and mental health and emotional well-being.
Research shows that children who play outside have lower stress levels and more active imaginations, become fitter and leaner, develop stronger immune systems, and have greater respect for themselves and for others. Furthermore, those who spend their childhood in nature are more likely to become environmentally conscious in the future.
“People, especially kids, need a direct connection to both forests and nature for their health and personal growth- and for the future of conservation,” said Chief Kimbell. “It’s wonderful to expand our efforts to reach kids through this partnership. The Ad Council has been helping us accomplish the Forest Service mission for over 60 years.”
Created pro bono by ad agency Euro RSCG, the campaign includes television, radio, outdoor, and Web PSAs, which show the freeing aspects a nature experience can provide by depicting the various qualities- the curious you, the creative you, the adventurous you- that tweens can discover about themselves in nature. The TV spots depict children engaging with nature in various ways and encourage audiences to discover the forest, “where the other you lives.” Additionally, the Brigham Young University Ad Lab developed two radio spots pro bono to further engage tweens in the message.
All of the PSAs direct parents and children to visit a new website, www.DiscoverTheForest.org, where they can find ideas for outdoor activities, as well as educational and conservation information. Additionally, families can access a new interactive tool, powered by Nature Find and Google Maps, where they can search for nearby forests and parks.
“According to our research, the vast majority of children have positive associations with nature and wish they could spend more time outdoors. However, there is a need for greater motivation, guidance and awareness about the many benefits of experiencing nature first-hand,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “We are proud to join with our longtime partners at the Forest Service to launch this wonderful campaign that will encourage children to spend more time outdoors in our nation’s forests and parks.”
The U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council have been partnering on the Wildfire Prevention PSA campaign, featuring Smokey Bear, since 1944. The campaign is the longest running PSA campaign in U.S. history.
“We are excited to partner with the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council, two stellar and highly respected organizations, for a campaign that communicates the benefits of spending time outdoors to children and ‘tweens,’ and their parents,” said Phil Silvestri, Executive Creative Director and Managing Director, Euro RSCG Tonic, part of the Euro RSCG Worldwide network. “Our agency is committed to finding ways to educate consumers about today’s health issues, such as the rise in childhood obesity and juvenile-onset diabetes, and we feel it is important to stress the benefits of outdoor play to today’s youth so that they lead healthy lifestyles and don’t miss out on one of the basic joys of being a kid- playing outside!”
Beginning this week, an integrated social media program will extend the reach of the PSA campaign online with strategies designed to engage both parents and children. Additionally, the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council are engaging a series of campaign partners in the federal government and nonprofit sectors to share the messages with their groups and members.
Campaign launch activities will continue throughout the next several months. As an extension of the campaign, the U.S. Forest Service and the Ad Council will kick off a national photo and art contest in September. Children will be invited to submit a photo or other form of art, which illustrates the creative ways that they are interacting with nature to find “the other you” outdoors. The winner will receive a prize that will promote increased outdoor activity.
The new PSAs and Web sites have been researched extensively and tested with children in the target audiences. The ads are being distributed to approximately 33,000 media outlets nationwide. Per the Ad Council’s model, all of the ads will air and run in advertising time and space donated by the media.
PRNewswire- U.S. Forest Service and Ad Council Launch National Campaign to Re-connect Children with Nature
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