The Big Help
Sad to say, the productivity of children has traditionally been recognized mainly by those who would exploit them as a source of cheap labor. Rarely have their boundless energy, acumen and inestimable good will been harnessed for positive ends. Happily, for the past five years, Nickelodeon has targeted and helped motivate children to volunteer their time and talents to their local communities, under the umbrella of the enormously successful Big Help campaign. In 1997 alone, the campaign reached an estimated 28 million children worldwide, through such activities as daily public service messages, tie-ins with Nickelodeon programs and personalities, telethons and local community events. Nickelodeon has successfully enlisted a broad and impressive range of celebrities and politicians in the cause of educating children on the value of community service, including General Colin Powell, basketball star Shaquille O’Neal, actress Whoopi Goldberg, even President Bill Clinton. But the program transcends the gratuitous celebrity “talking heads” and traditional high-minded on-air announcements of many PSA campaigns. For example, the 1997 Help-a-thon, hosted by Nickelodeon personalities Mike O’Malley and Larisa Oleynik, resulted in more than 85 million volunteer hours pledged from an estimated eight million children. National Big Help partners include 4-H, the National Wildlife Federation, Ronald McDonald House Charities, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America, Boys and Girls Clubs of America, Earth Force and Easter Seals, and nearly two dozen others. Under the committed leadership and vision of Nickelodeon president Herb Scannell, executive producers Mark Offitzer and Albie Hecht, producer Marilyn Seabury and director Glenn Weiss, millions of well-meaning kids are making a big difference through The Big Help. For this, a Peabody to Nickelodeon.