In an effort to encourage children to spend more time outdoors and re-connect with nature, the USDA Forest Service and the Ad Council are joining DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc. today to launch a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) featuring characters from DreamWorks Animation's beloved Shrek films. Hank Kashdan, Associate Chief of the Forest Service, will unveil the PSAs on June 11 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in coordination with National Get Outdoors Day (June 12).
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. 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 are more likely to become environmentally conscious in the future.
"I am very pleased that Shrek is joining the Forest Service team to encourage children to get outdoors and learn about all the neat things forests have to offer," said Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. "It's important for parents and their children to enjoy the great outdoors. And let's not forget, children are the future generations that will learn to love and protect these important lands."
Launched in June 2009, the Re-connecting Kids with Nature 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. Created pro bono by DreamWorks Animation and Turbine Boost, the new television, radio, outdoor and Web PSAs feature Shrek interacting with children in the forest and encourage audiences to "get outside and explore nature" because "there are surprises everywhere."Additionally, the Brigham Young University Ad Lab developed a second series of radio, outdoor and Web ads to further engage tweens in the message.
All of the PSAs direct parents and children to visit the campaign's website, www.DiscoverTheForest.org, where they can find ideas for outdoor activities, as well as educational and conservation information. Additionally, families can access an interactive tool (now also available on mobile devices), powered by Nature Find™ and Google Maps, where they can search for nearby forests and parks. This week, the site will also include a "Book of Stuff to Do Outside" featuring characters from Shrek, which was developed with DreamWorks Animation's partner Hewlett Packard.
"These new PSAs and campaign materials are a wonderful extension of our efforts with the U.S. Forest Service to motivate children to spend more time outdoors," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "We are grateful to DreamWorks Animation for developing these ads featuring Shrek and we believe this beloved character will continue to encourage children and families to discover the many benefits that nature and the forest provide."
"At DreamWorks Animation we are proud to support the Ad Council's ongoing efforts to encourage kids and families to get outside and enjoy all that nature has to offer," said Anne Globe, head of worldwide marketing for DreamWorks Animation. "Shrek – whose love of the outdoors makes for an authentic fit with the message of the Forest Service – serves as the inspiration for the creative concept behind this unique series of custom-animated public service announcements."
The new PSAs will be promoted through an integrated social media program on Facebook and Twitter and through other online outreach. Visit the campaign's online communities on www.facebook.com/discovertheforest and www.twitter.com/cheecker.