Nick Encourages Kids to Turn Off the TV

Nickelodeon will step up its efforts to encourage
kids to become more active through its annual
World Wide Day of Play event, which takes place on Saturday
(Sept. 24).

Now in its eighth year, World Wide Day of Play — which encourages
kids to turn off the TV and computer and get active
— will count more than 40 fitness and health-based advocacy
groups as participants in the Sept. 24 event in Washington,
D.C., as well as first lady Michelle Obama, according to Nickelodeon
Networks president Cyma Zarghami.

Since Sept. 3, Nickelodeon has been running public-service
announcements in which Obama promotes the initiative,
during which the network will suspend all television
and online programming from noon to 3 p.m. to push kids
and families to get up and get active. “We’ve talked about
bringing a big event to Washington, and with the first Lady’s
interest in the same initiative, with her “Let’s Move”
program, this seemed like the best opportunity,” she said.

Other advocacy groups working with Nickelodeon on
the initiative include Major League Baseball; the Boys &
Girls Clubs of America; the President’s Council on Fitness,
Sports and Nutrition; Zumba Fitness; the United States
Olympic Committee; the American Alliance for Health,
Physical Education, Recreation and Dance; the American
Heart Association; and the National Parent Teacher Association.
Zarghami said the network’s ongoing pro-social initiatives
have caught the attention of groups looking to offer
the same healthy living messages to kids and young adults.

“While we are a commercial entity, we have established a
certain amount of credibility among advocacy groups and
Washington to be an aggregator of positive messages for this
type of initiative for kids,” she said. “As a mature brand now
we feel good about taking that role on as an umbrella aggregator
for people who want to send the same message.”

And kids are engaged. Zarghami said more than 1 million
children have already signed up online to participate
in World Wide Day of Play’s PALA (Presidential Active Lifestyle
Award) Challenge, in which kids pledge to exercise for
at least an hour a day at least five days a week for six out of
eight weeks.

This year’s World Wide Day of Play will take place at the
Ellipse — located in the National Park Service unit of President’s
Park just south of the White House — with Nick and
its partner groups hosting a wide variety of activities, including
baseball, soccer, dance, lacrosse, cheerleading,
martial arts and entertainment. Nickelodeon stars such as
Keke Palmer (True Jackson, VP), and the casts of popular
Nick series iCarly and Victorious will also be in attendance.

“Our audience really likes to have a dialogue
with our talent, and they feel very strongly about getting
involved in different iterations of pro-social initiatives
with us,” she said. “They send such a great
message as role models to our audience.”

Zarghami said the network will feature live cut-ins from
the event throughout the day as well as a 30-mintue special
which will include a concert performance from Big
Time Rush
. “We’ll gather a great deal of material that will
populate the channel for months to come,” she added.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.