helps kids cope with COVID-19 & empowers them to build a better future
Superhero Training for the next generation.
"Like going to Jedi School," says founder.
Innovative online learning program helps Canadian families cope with COVID-19
The Planet Protector Academy, a ground-breaking digital/interactive classroom program, has been adapted for home use, and it is having a measurably positive impact on kids’ and parents’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Planet Protector Academy (PPA) is a suite of web-based enviro-educational programs with an innovative arts-based approach to learning and youth engagement. It was designed to be delivered in elementary school classrooms, but in the six to seven weeks since schools closed across Canada, PPA creators DreamRider Productions have adapted the content and relaunched it as the Planet Protector Academy: HOME Edition.
Delivered free via live webcasts, the HOME Edition includes learning for kids aged 6-11 on environmental issues PLUS new content on mental health, hygiene and other pandemic-coping topics, such as how to do a “Superhero Calming Breath” to help with fear and anxiety.
In a survey of HOME Edition users, 46 per cent of parents said the PPA: HOME Edition helped their family cope with COVID. Children also responded:
I feel more cheerful: (82%).
I feel more calm and relaxed: (71.5%).
My life was more interesting this week: (80.7%).
The program combines web technology, video, comedy, music and fun to inspire offline action. It’s a unique hybrid: a digital program that inspires kids to sing, move, breathe, create and imagine. PPA: HOME Edition is delivered in week-long sessions, each of which includes daily one-hour webcasts, four days a week.
DreamRider actors Sara Holt and Ian Gschwind host the program live from their living rooms, taking kids through lessons and activities that include singing, dancing, games and crafts. Kids become Apprentice Planet Protectors, part of the PPA’s exciting superhero story line. They receive “missions” they can do at home, to inspire family members to change behaviours, like turning off lights, taking shorter showers and reducing waste.
Kids are loving it – and parents are finding relief as well, not only from the burden of home schooling, but also from watching their kids participate joyfully in the program’s activities, at a time when fun and inspiration have been hard to come by. More than 750 children across Canada have participated since the PPA: HOME Edition launched several weeks ago.
Teachers are doing the program with their students as well. Joe Filipone, a Grade 3 teacher with School District 40 in New Westminster, B.C., noted there is of growing list of online home learning tools, but many use a game format. He said the PPA: HOME Edition “is the first one I’ve used where kids can have a real connection. It’s one thing to be a game, but there’s something in a live interaction. The Planet Protector Academy: HOME Edition was superb! Easily the best thing my class has done since schools were closed!”
Aliya Jackson, of Prince George, B.C., feared her 11-year-old son Terran would be bored with the program, but when she logged on and ran the first module, “I could hear him laughing. He said, ‘This is so much fun!’” Along with the requisite math and grammar lessons, the PPA: HOME Edition has become part of their daily routine. Planet Protector Academy is “100 per cent” part of a well-rounded educational experience, she said.
Another child participant said that, after a week of PPA: HOME Edition sessions, “It felt the whole time like I was in a giant hug!”
Michael Tanaka, a parent in Burnaby, B.C., called PPA: HOME Edition “a real bright light for our family during this time. Out of all the at-home education activities we have tried, Planet Protector Academy was the only one which our son could independently participate in, giving us parents a valuable hour of work and chore time at home."
The enviro-educational benefits of the Planet Protector Academy suite are well-documented. The PPA: HOME Edition has revealed that the program’s arts-based methodology, and its emphasis on fun, kindness, and authentic connection to each other and to nature, are uniquely suited to help families cope with the stress of living through a pandemic.
"The whole world is on pause. In that space, I want to help kids to create the world they want."
- Vanessa LeBourdais, Co-Founder
OUR SECRET SAUCE
A Jedi school for the environment
We design delightful experiences, led by digital media, that spark students' imagination, curiosity and passion. How do we do it? Here's our secret sauce:
“It’s like going to Jedi School!” Students, - or Apprentice Planet Protectors, we we like to call them - become part of a collective story-world in the classroom, while they undertake fun learning activities. Then, each week, Apprentices go home on Planet Protecting missions to lead change in their families.
"My students felt that they owned this program, that they are actually real life planet protectors. I love this program because it’s so hands on and engaging, because it gets the kids up out of their seats, and interacting, cooperating and collaborating with each other for a common goal. Highly recommended"
– Shane Hipwell, Grade 4-5 Teacher, Dormick Park Elementary, Abbotsford, BC
This is a cooperative game. Students get points for participation, teamwork and problem-solving, both in classroom activities and at-home superhero missions.
"Eliminates all classroom management issues. The point system and missions motivate them to work together and to complete assignments in a cooperative way."
- Lara Thielen, Grade 2/3 Teacher, Lethbridge, AB
Arts engage the whole child - body, mind and heart. Students express their learning through curriculum-linked, arts-based activities in the classroom. They write & perform raps, make posters and create skits that connect them deeply to the topics and to their peers.
"The use of the arts and creative expression – creating raps, doing theatre, drawing and so on – gets the kids collaborating and really engaged.”
– Shane Hipwell, Teacher, Abbotsford, BC
"If all learning was structured this way, we would have much happier students and classes!
"My students were engaged and BEGGED for it to be "Planet Protector" time. They couldn't wait to complete their missions! The most amazing, engaging sustainability resource I have come across."
- Amanda F., Grade 1-3 Teacher, Essex County, ON
"My kids became leaders and definitely made a difference.
"They were very enthusiastic, engaged and excited!"
- Tammi Remsberg, Elementary Teacher, Concord, NC
"My students are now brainstorming in their other classes, and showing really deep thinking.
"The kids loved it, very engaged, it just really boosted the enthusiasm for my whole integrated unit, so I strongly, strongly recommend the program."
- Rand Webber, Grade 3/4 Teacher, Vancouver, BC
About DreamRider Productions
Veteran theatre artists Vanessa LeBourdais and Ian Gschwind founded DreamRider Productions in Vancouver, B.C., in 2002, with a mission is to build generations of socially and ecologically responsible young citizens through the excitement of live theatre, interactive media, music and film.
The program has reached more than one million children through live shows in the Vancouver area and through the Planet Protector Academy (PPA), which reaches more than 125 cities in Canada, six U.S. states and in India. In the 2018-19 school year, participating Canadian children completed more 22,000 PPA superhero missions.
Cinthia Nemoto, Manager, Partnerships & Marketing
DreamRider Productions, creators of the Planet Protector Academy
416-303-6267 / firstname.lastname@example.org
"My kids were totally engaged and were so excited about what they were learning.
"I loved the practical challenges and how little prep there was for me."
M.Y., Grade 2/3 teacher, Surrey, BC
"My student with autism and my gifted student were equally engaged.
"My student with autism went up to the front of the room for the first time ever, to take part in the Game Show."
- S. Seward, Grade 2, North Vancouver, BC.
Executive Producer, Creative Lead, Co-Founder
Vanessa LeBourdais is the lead creator/producer of the Planet Protector Academy program. She is an award-winning writer, director, producer, composer, singer, and experience designer. Her fun and engaging environmental education programs have reached over a million kids across Canada and in the US and now India. Vanessa was recently named an Ashoka Fellow - a member of a global alliance of the world's leading social entrepreneurs.
Vanessa’s lifelong dedication of her art to saving the planet began in 1992 when her backyard rainforest was turned into a parking lot, which led her to become one of the organizers of the 1992-93 Clayoquot Sound logging protests – Canada’s largest nonviolent civil disobedience action at the time; her songs became the songs of the movement.
Vanessa initiated and co-led a successful equity initiative in the 43,000-member Facebook group, Nonprofit Happy Hour, and several other related groups.
HOME EDITION: QUICK FACTS
For ages 6-11
4 days a week, live broadcast, 1 hr/day, every week.
97% of teachers recommend
150+ cities in Canada, US & India
1 year later 87% of parents say they are still doing changes led by their child