Kids are sometimes the best and most enthusiastic ambassadors for change. Whether it’s taking on a cause, starting a club, or encouraging others to do good in the world, kids can make a big difference in improving their lives and the lives of everyone around them. In recognition of this special quality possessed by many children, Disney created the Friends For Change program, a way for kids to get involved in helping people, their community or the whole planet. The program features ways for kids to take action, encourage other kids to get involved, get their classroom involved, apply for grants, and do fun activities, all with the purpose of providing them with the tools to make our world a better place to live.
Disney is a global representation of what it means to be a kid, or a kid at heart. In providing Disney parks, movies, merchandise and experiences to kids all over the globe, Disney took notice of how easily kids embraced the idea of helping make positive changes in the world. The Friends for Change program was created to help encourage and support kids in making those changes in three areas: volunteering, leadership, and going green. Disney uses tools that kids know and love, such as online games and an interactive online site, and the Disney stars kids can relate to, such as the actors portraying Austin & Allie, the stars of Shake It Up! and Debby Ryan from Jessie. Plus, by encouraging kids to involve their friends and families, Disney lets kids use their strengths to do good no matter what their age, location, or ethnicity.
In order to officially participate in the Friends For Change program, kids must first go online and register for a free account at Disney.com. This allows kids to take official actions such as: voting on projects to receive funding from Disney, making pledges to take action in specific areas, and keeping an updated record of the good they are doing so other kids can see and be inspired. Depending on the things that your child is passionate about, they can choose to focus their efforts on a specific area with the help of Disney star power and even influence grant funding. Disney has designated ambassadors for three areas of change, with many ways for kids to get involved and help in each one.
Debby Ryan from Jessie is the ambassador in the area of volunteering, and she is heading to India to help with the construction of classrooms and space for school programs. Kids who are interested in volunteer opportunities can vote for her project and download materials that will help them get involved in their own backyard.
Future leaders will love getting involved in the leadership opportunities, spearheaded by Shake It Up’s ambassadors Bella and Zendaya. The stars will host a leadership academy for 60 participants, who can then take their knowledge home to be passed along to area kids. Kids who visit the leadership page can view many resources to help them become a leader in their own communities.
The popular Disney show Austin & Allie is well known by kids of a certain age everywhere, and its stars Ross and Laura are the ambassadors of Green Your Scene, where they will help green more than 25 urban Los Angeles schools as part of their program. Kids who want to green their own scene can make green pledges in the areas of climate, habitat, waste and water; do hands-on activities; form a Green club; or get a Green Your Scene Action Kit to jumpstart their own local green movement.
In addition to getting involved in the three ambassador programs, kids can influence the distribution of funds for three grant programs by voting online for their favorite projects. Disney plans to distribute over $750,000 to the three causes, and kids who get involved can help decide how the funds are used! Plus, kids can apply for grants as part of a Friends For Change club or with Disney’s youth grants. Classrooms can get involved with the Planet Challenge - the in-school version of the Friends For Change program - where schools can complete environmental projects and earn fun rewards like trips to Disneyland, a Disney concert at school, or pre-screening of Disney Nature movies.
It’s never too early to care about the health and future of our planet and all the people and animals who call it home. If your child is interested in making a difference right now, Disney’s Friends For Change program makes it fun, effective, and easy!