Never doubt that a group of 4th-graders can change the world.
I'm speaking about a precocious group of tree-huggers in Boston, who are celebrating the success of their civic action this week. The kids were alarmed when they watched the trailer and visited the Web site for the upcoming Universal Pictures movie "The Lorax" based on the insanely popular Dr. Seuss book. They thought the strong environmental themes of the book were lost in the movie's attempt to jazz up The Lorax with action scenes and a romance that wasn't part of the original story.
The 4th-grade class, aided by their teacher Mr. Wells, started a petition at the social change and petition Web site Change.org asking Universal to make the movie a better tool for creating positive change.
The kids were realistic enough to know they weren't going to convince Universal to delay the film's release date, pull the movie from theaters and re-edit it to have a more powerful pro-environment message. Instead, they asked for something reasonable and do-able: use the movie and its official Web site to promote educational materials about what average folks can do to save the environment.
Their petition got a boost from the actor Edward Norton, who tweeted about the petition and asked his followers to sign it. Within days, more than 57,000 people had signed the petition, and soon thereafter, Universal Pictures placed a prominent "Go Green" button on the movie's official Web site inviting visitors to "join us in protecting the forests and endangered species of our planet" and linking folks to The Lorax Project, a initiative launched in 2008 by Conservation International, Random House (publishers of the Lorax) and Dr. Seuss Enterprises.
Today I got an email from the kids (via Change.org) with the following message:
A few days ago, you got an email about our petition asking Universal Pictures to change their Lorax movie website to be more green. This was important to us because when we grow up we will really want a healthy planet, so we worked hard to change the world.
This week we found out we did it! Woo hoo! Now visitors will see a gruvvulous "Go Green" Truffula tuft button that Universal put on their big website -- the button links to a whole page of tips about how to help the environment. You, yes you, and 57,238 others helped us put it there by signing our petition. We are so proud!
Some adults say they're role models for kids, but we think we're being role models for adults. We are also proud because so many of you helped us. Even though we might be little we can still make a lot of change in anything we work hard at. Our petition was so much fun. You can make one at Change.org, too -- just click here! We were super psyched and wanted to check signatures every second! We graphed how many, but it blew right off the poster! It's great for people to be caring about the environment!
To wrap up, we'd just like to say: Thank you so much for all your support. We needed Universal to be a good sport. We are the changers, the changers that say, "Thank you so much on this glorious day! You helped us a ton," we needed to say, "We couldn't have done it any other way."
Sincerely, - Ollie, Lanie, Georgia, Zoe, Jake, Alex, Jacob, Sophia, Ben, Miky, Jeffery, Camily, Vikrum, Lulu, Nicole, and Ted (aka Mr. Wells)
Hooray for 4th-graders, awesome teachers, Truffula trees and Loraxes everywhere.
PS: Here at CLCV, we occasionally ask you to sign petitions, call or email your elected representatives, learn the environmental score of those elected officials, and of course, cast your vote for environmental champions. While we don't always see results as quickly as Mr. Wells' class, please know how much we value your time and as a result, we only ask you to join us in taking action when we believe it will make an important difference. Thanks as always for helping us "speak for the trees," as well as for kids and families, clean air and water, and wild open spaces.