Nickelodeon's Big Help for Haiti

Kids are often stereotyped as having little or no interest in current events, especially things occurring beyond their backyards. But Nickelodeon is counting on its audience to turn its attention away from slapstick sponges and giggly girls for a moment, in order to help those devastated by last week's earthquake in Haiti.

The Big Orange just launched The Big Help: Help Haiti, offering suggestions on ways kids without bank accounts and credit cards can help, including:

• Selling lemonade
• Holding a car wash
• Selling baked goods
• Donating allowance

The site also features a message board where kids can offer and discuss their own ideas.

These shared ideas are great, but to go the extra mile, I would add these:

• Locating and donating loose change sitting in cups, cans and couch cushions around the house
• Writing letters to local papers imploring other children to help
• Eventually seeking Haitian pen pals to share sympathy and support
• Creating personalized pledge drives, like a marathon walk, skipping snacks or avoiding TV for a month
• Creating a storytelling event with friends at a local bookstore, reading books about Haiti and Haitian culture and asking for donations

The Nickelodeon site also connects kids and their families to specific organizations including UNICEF, Save the Children, Mercy Corps, Doctors Without Borders, American Red Cross and Kids Care. This way, kids can not only play a part in choosing a charity, but learn exactly what those charities stand for.

Nickelodeon's instincts are well-placed. From my experience, kids do indeed want to help make the real world a better place, but they need very specific direction on how to do it. It would also be effective to show and profile actual Haitian kids with whom this audience can relate. Kids almost always respond to other kids (and animals, for that matter) in trouble. And now, with Nick's encouragement, they will.

What are your kids doing to help Haiti? Chime in below!

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