BURBANK, Calif., March 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Nickelodeon is marking the 10th anniversary of the world's most beloved Latina heroine, Dora the Explorer, with a unique pro-social campaign titled "Beyond the Backpack" that champions overall school readiness for preschoolers. The campaign will serve as the key component of Nickelodeon's overall plans for Dora the Explorer's anniversary, and will consist of a PSA campaign featuring Salma Hayek Pinault and Dora herself; a fundraising auction of limited-edition Dora backpacks, with designs by Hayek Pinault and other celebrities; financial grants; a dedicated web site with downloadable toolkits for parents and educators; and local community activities across the country. Nickelodeon's anniversary plans for Dora also include four prime-time TV specials; an original documentary produced by Academy Award®-nominated Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture); and new online Dora content for preschoolers and their parents.
At a press conference held today at the Nickelodeon Animation Studio in Burbank, Calif., Nickelodeon President Cyma Zarghami was joined by Hayek Pinault and Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of the Children's Defense Fund, to outline the anniversary plans and "Beyond the Backpack," which is named after Dora's iconic backpack that helps her be prepared for all of her adventures. Directly following the day's announcements, the anniversary activities were officially launched by Hayek Pinault reading an interactive Dora the Explorer storybook about education and getting ready for school to a group of L.A.-area preschoolers.
"Dora has had a positive, and indelible impact on millions of young kids around the world since she first said 'vamanos' nearly ten years ago, and this Latina heroine is the perfect representative for this important new campaign to help preschoolers and their parents prepare for the big adventure of school," said Cyma Zarghami, President, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. "We are proud to be partnering with Salma Hayek Pinault, The Children's Defense Fund and National PTA in this effort, and are thrilled that they are still many, many more adventures yet ahead for Dora to continue to explore with our audiences around the world."
"Beyond the Backpack" is a multi-year, multi-platform program that champions overall school readiness for preschoolers as they prepare for the important adventure of going to school. In partnership with The Children's Defense Fund, National Parents Teachers Association (PTA) and other experts and leaders in school readiness who will form an advisory committee, "Beyond the Backpack" will help provide parents and educators with tools and resources that can help kids prepare for a well-rounded, positive school experience.
"Beyond the Backpack" is designed to call attention to the emotional, physical, experiential and actual competencies that preschoolers need for those first, crucial steps into school, including: social skills and emotional intelligence; early literacy and math skills; in-school involvement and resources like school supplies; and health and wellness basics. The measurable components of the campaign include dedicated PSAs; a web site with information, links to partner organizations and downloadable content for parents and educators; financial resources and grants; fundraising activities; and community events.
"The Children's Defense Fund has worked for over three decades to support the growth and development of our nation's children," noted Wright Edelman. "We have paid special attention to the crucial early years when so much brain and emotional development occur. These foundational years can and must propel all our children towards healthy and successful lives. I applaud Nickelodeon's "Beyond the Backpack" program which will give parents tools to share unforgettable learning opportunities that stir the mind and spirit of their child. This is the real power of education."
National PTA has signed on as "Beyond the Backpack" signature partner for the campaign. They will be providing long-term, multi-year grassroots support through the distribution of educational materials to their national constituency, and will co-author a parent's toolkit for distribution. Said Betsy Landers, National PTA President-elect, "For decades, National PTA has provided parents with tools and resources to help them help their children succeed. That's why we're proud to partner with Nickelodeon and the Children's Defense Fund on this effort that will work to ensure children are prepared to learn so that they reach their full potential."
To add further support to the "Beyond the Backpack" initiative, Hayek Pinault is featured in a forthcoming "Beyond the Backpack" PSA television campaign alongside Dora. Hayek also is leading an effort with Nickelodeon to create a limited-edition series of celebrity-designed backpacks for auction this summer. With more participants to be announced shortly, Hayek Pinault, John Leguizamo, Slash and Shakira will put their personal touches on special Dora-themed backpacks. A limited quantity of each backpack will be auctioned off globally, in countries including the United States, France, the UK, Mexico, Canada, Spain, The Netherlands, Greece, Australia, New Zealand and Israel. One hundred percent of the U.S. proceeds will benefit the Children's Defense Fund. One hundred percent of international proceeds will go toward childhood education in each respective country.
Since its launch on Aug. 14, 2000, Dora the Explorer has emerged as a global phenomenon and ranks among the top-rated shows in major television markets worldwide. The show is seen in more than 140 markets around the world and is translated in more than 28 languages.
Spanning Nick's brand portfolio with on-air, online and local community events, Nick's plans for Dora's anniversary include:
"Beyond the Backpack":
Just as Dora the Explorer's Backpack keeps Dora prepared for each adventure, preschoolers deserve to be well-prepared for their first school experience with the resources, skills and support needed to help ensure a successful start to their education.
- "Beyond the Backpack" will help provide parents, educators and the community at large with tools and information to engage in activities that support educating kids in areas critical to school success: social skills and emotional intelligence; early literacy and math ability; in-school involvement; and health and wellness basics.
- The campaign's web site, www.dorabeyondthebackpack.com, launching in April, will be a navigational tool for parents and educators to find, read and research information on the members of the advisory committee and their work in the area of school readiness. The site also will feature downloadable activities, like basic ABC's and 123's worksheets, and Dora the Explorer storybooks featuring the same educational curricula as the award-winning TV program.
- The site will additionally include links to relevant articles on subjects such as social and emotional skills, early literacy and math skills and health and wellness. Nickelodeon also plans to commission new articles by experts that will be available on the site and will be linked to Nickelodeon's ParentsConnect (www.parentsconnect.com).
- Nickelodeon and the PTA will create and distribute toolkits that will provide parents and educators with resources and activities to help children prepare for preschool. The downloadable toolkits will be available online at www.dorabeyondthebackpack.com, as well as on nickjr.com and pta.org. Toolkits also will be distributed to the more than 20,000 PTA leaders across the country.
- The PSA campaign with Hayek Pinault and Dora will bow on Nickelodeon, Nick Jr. and Nick at Nite beginning in April, to raise awareness for "Beyond the Backpack."
- Celebrity-designed backpacks will be auctioned off globally. Proceeds from the U.S. auctions will benefit the Children's Defense Fund, and international proceeds will go toward organizations supporting childhood education in each respective country.
- "Beyond the Backpack" also will have a role in Nickelodeon's public affairs' ongoing grants program, where local organizations can apply for grants to further the campaign's goals of school readiness.
Prime-Time TV Specials:
- The first of four Dora the Explorer prime-time specials will be "Swiper the Explorer," airing Sunday, March 21, at 8:00 p.m. (ET/PT) on Nickelodeon. In mid-August, on the weekend marking the moment of Dora's 10th anniversary (Aug. 15), the network will air the hour-long prime-time special, "Dora's Big Birthday Adventure."
- Nickelodeon also has commissioned an original documentary, directed by Academy Award®-nominated Brett Morgen (The Kid Stays in the Picture, On the Ropes), chronicling Dora the Explorer from its creation to subsequent decade of continuing global success. The documentary is slated to premiere on Nick in August.
Additional Online Activities and Content:
Nickelodeon will launch DoratheExplorer.com, the ultimate Dora the Explorer online destination and activity hub which encourages families to explore with Dora both on and off line.
- Online, kids can explore Dora's world via an immersive online game filled with popular destinations from the show like Isa's Garden, Mermaid Kingdom and Star Mountain. Each month, the online game will add a new location that corresponds to a monthly theme.
- Offline, kids and parents together can complete local expeditions, updated weekly and written by editors at ParentsConnect (www.parentsconnect.com), which are inspired by Dora's adventures and will encourage families to explore their local communities. Parents can register for the site to keep track of completed offline expeditions and earn rewards that can be used in the online game. The site will also contain printables, recipes and crafts.
Local Community Events:
Off channel, Dora the Explorer will have a presence at local community and multicultural events around the country including all five Junta Hispana festivities in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston and Miami, among other engagements to be announced throughout the remainder of the year.
Dora the Explorer, created by Chris Gifford, Valerie Walsh Valdes and Eric Weiner, is a play-along, animated adventure series starring Dora (Caitlin Sanchez). Dora is a seven-year-old Latina heroine whose adventures take place in an imaginative, tropical world filled with jungles, beaches and rainforests. She explores her world just as preschoolers do everyday, and the show is designed to actively engage its audience in an interactive quest using a variety of learning techniques.
Nickelodeon, now in its 30th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, online, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon's U.S. television network is seen in almost 100 million households and has been the number-one-rated basic cable network for 15 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NYSE: VIA, VIA.B).