Doin’ It For The Kids
I think, these days, parents have a serious desire to give their children the material they need to help them grow into better adults.
Whether it's food that nurtures their brains and bodies, empathy for other cultures and communities, or an appreciation of environmental sustainability and the effects it has on the fragile world - it's all content parents are expecting from schools, political leaders, entertainers, and the like. It was this mindset that made the Waste Warriors puppet-making school holidays shopping centre activation at Kellyville Village so popular…with parents as well as kids! In a style similar to the 'Reporpoisiing Plant' we custom-designed and built for QIC in March last year, the Waste Warriors workshops combined creativity with education. Kids were allowed to follow their instincts and assemble their creations as they saw fit but also be inspired by the fictional narrative behind the character they were making. Through a carefully curated social media pre-campaign, imaginative facilitators and activation signage, kids learnt that a Waste Warrior was a cool little creature that was put here to teach them about waste and sustainability - for example, turning off lights, recycling or refusing plastic bags and cultivating food from compost in the backyard. They were deliberately simple concepts, and scenarios that were likely to appear in the life of the average 8-year-old. A case of, just enough to challenge without being overwhelming. The result at best was going to be a change in behaviour and a furthering of artistic sensibilities, but if nothing else, these kids were being exposed to new ideas and they were using their brains during school holidays rather than having that nutritionless honey dripped in their ear from Looney Tunes characters (apologies to Bugs and Tweety). It was this difference that inspired many parents to stop and lay a gentle hand on the arm of our facilitators and thank them sincerely for bringing such a valuable experience into their children's lives. As an experiential agency, that's the type of feedback you can only dream off when designing for children.
So we've got evidence that Waste Warriors at Kellyville Village succeeded in connecting children with worthwhile environmental practices as well as the right side of their brains. What it also did was connect them with their local community via workshop experiences and group reward incentives - an outcome that we anticipated, but certainly not in such strength.
Workshops aimed at school-aged children, regardless of content, will always involve kids sharing and even making friends, to lesser or greater degrees. The difference with Waste Warriors was the completely organic and undefined nature of the outcome - there were no paper instructions, no piece to follow piece, no clearly defined ending; therefore, every kid was an inspiration, or the inspired, and that often led to kids liking, sharing or even asking one another for where they got a particular sculptural material from. It was a competitionless existence and being around other mini creators was a fantastic way to enhance the experience.
But even before the very first piece of foam or styrene was attached to a length of dowel, we sought to build a Waste Warrior army from the kids that would attend the brand activation. The mechanic simply dictated that kids write their name and school on a sheet at the workshop, with the school who 'produced' the greatest number of attendees scoring themselves a nice cash prize to put towards a green project. We targeted schools in the PR campaign, seeing the prize as a worthwhile exchange for eyeballs. The number of entrants at the end of the two weeks was satisfactory, but what was really pleasing was the unexpected degree to which the local winning school supported the prize fulfilment by featuring it at their school assembly and in their weekly newsletter. The school even chose to acknowledge several of the kids whose names appeared on the sheet, and in doing so, created a thought-leadership culture out of young people and placed an invaluable spotlight on the issues at hand. Communities within communities can rarely be made; they need to form organically and find their own voice. This is when they are at their greatest strength.
Waste Warriors is truly a community engagement event for this generation, and its parents. We pride ourselves on work that is smart, creative, fun and helps kids appreciate themselves, each other and their world. Like their parents, we take this responsibility very seriously.