`Eco-Adventure’ Show Brings Environmental Message To Kids

Spokane officials hope a supersensitive, high-top wearing frog will persuade children to take care of the environment.

The frog is the central character in a 45-minute program about kids who fight pollution. The program is sponsored by three local environmental agencies.

The show, “Eco-Adventure - A Journey through Spokane’s Environment,” will be performed at every public elementary school in Spokane County by March.

Agency officials, who paid $268,000 to develop and produce the show, hope it will teach kids to prevent pollution.

“A lot of the program is silly and fun, but it tackles some big issues,” said Katherine McCormick, vice president of RXL Pulitzer, an education production company, and one of the show’s writers.

“Really the overriding theme was not that kids would be able to pass a test, but that they would have a sense of themselves as environmental stewards.”

The show combines a locally filmed movie, about kids who turn from litterbugs into Earth stewards, and live performances by nationally known children’s singer Jim Valley and Spokane dance instructor Cindy Deerheim.

The speechless frog, named Enuf Already and played by Deerheim, is suffering because of the toxic substances in its environment. Valley tells the children that unless they stop pollution, all living things, from frogs to people, will suffer.

The pair of performers involve children in dances and songs about environmental concerns.

“We didn’t want it to be a passive experience for the kids,” McCormick said. “We didn’t want it to be like a traditional education experience.

“We wanted to make it available to kids.”

The pollution the program deals with is familiar to most Spokane residents: the smog that hovers over us during air inversions and the industrial solvents that can leak into the aquifer.

The children in the movie go on a journey, during which they must come up with ways to prevent pollution.

“We wanted to present it in a way that children knew they should be concerned about the environment and that they could have some impact on it,” McCormick said.

Three agencies - the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System, the Air Pollution Control Authority and the Water Quality Program - split the program’s $268,000 price tag. The three hired RXL Pulitzer, which is an educational broadcast and video production company.

“We hatched this idea to get the message out about recycling and the other environmental agencies joined in,” said Ann Murphy of the Solid Waste System.

“It’s really valuable for us to send these messages together because they’re interrelated. Working together, we get more out of our money.”

The program is being performed twice a day, five days a week, at area schools until March.

Last week children at Madison Elementary bounced and swung to the music Valley was performing.

“All the kids love music,” Madison teacher Judi Migliazzo said. “Some of the children were so involved that they were freely dancing.”

Children - as they dance, sing and watch the show - are likely to retain the lessons because so many of their senses are involved, she said.

In addition to watching the show, each child will go home with a tape of four lively songs from the production. Teachers were given plans for lessons they could teach that are related to the production.

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