Say 'HALO' to Teen Responsibility?

TeenNick, the Nickelodeon channel desperately trying to hang on to the Twilight-loving, MTV-ready segment of its audience, is taking the high road with a new awards show.

In the TeenNick HALO Awards (Helping And Leading Others), TeenNick "Chairman" Nick Cannon recognizes four regular teenagers who’ve done outstanding charitable work in their communities. They include an AIDS activist, a marine life advocate, a youth empowerment community organizer, and the founder of a support group for girls with scoliosis.

Each of the intrepid teens gets a surprise visit from Cannon, grants for their organizations, scholarship funds, and a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and connect with a celebrity who shares a similar passion for their cause."

LeBron James, Alicia Keys, Hayden Panettiere, and Justin Timberlake are on hand to help, and First Lady Michelle Obama will deliver an encouraging message. In true Nick fashion, the HALO Awards will also feature a mobile sweepstakes called 'Do Good in Your 'Hood' from December 11 through January 10, 2010.

The HALO Awards concept was conceived, emceed and executively produced by Nick Cannon. It’s as if Nickelodeon hosted a "Take a Star to Work Day"... and the day never ended. 

"Nick Cannon came to us with the brilliant idea of celebrating and supporting these [teen] efforts by creating an award show that flips the script and features today's biggest celebrities giving out the awards instead of receiving them," said Marjorie Cohn, Executive Vice President for Nickelodeon. "We think the HALO Awards will help to inspire other young people in their communities to get involved in service."

That's a nice thought, but for all of Nick's (and Nick's) enthusiasm, I've never known a TV show to make a truly positive motivational impact on teens. After all, teens have a genetic disposition toward self-absorption.

But if self-satisfaction, community pride, human compassion, and the fate of their own futures are not effective motivations for most teenagers to fix the world, then why not let Chairman Nick and his all-star buddies take a shot? It's not like he can fire them.

The TeenNick HALO Awards airs Friday, December 11 at 8 p.m. on TeenNick.

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