Yesterday on World Oceans Day, SpongeBob SquarePants ventured out of Bikini Bottom and headed to the Great Barrier Reef to celebrate the launch of Nickelodeon’s new ocean conservation program for kids – Junior Citizens of the Reef.
Co-created by Nickelodeon Australia and non-for-profit Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, Junior Citizens of the Reef provides kids’ with information about the Reef and ocean conservation in an entertaining and child-friendly format housed on an interactive online learning hub.
Joining SpongeBob on his adventure were fellow Junior Citizens, social influencers and passionate young reef ambassadors Alex Hayes, Morgan Hipworth and Harvey Petito, who broadcasted their adventure to the Great Barrier Reef to their two million plus social followers.
Other ambassadors of the program include Olympic gold medal winner and Australian swimmer Mac Horton, world-famous musician DJ Tigerlily and popular Australian YouTubers Georgia Productions and Sarah Jane Betts.
Launching with a splash, the program has seen over 400 kids pledging to become Junior Citizens of the Reef and commit to a series of simple every day actions they can do to help protect the reef.
The concept for the initiative is underpinned by Nickelodeon’s 2018 global research study, Kids of the World, which identified ‘Protecting your country’s wildlife and nature’ within the top five problems kids would like to fix, with 32 per cent of Australian kids* actively wanting to solve this global problem.
Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef is a social movement created by Earth Hour founder, Andy Ridley.
Its mission is to protect and conserve the Great Barrier Reef, and all reefs around the world, by empowering people on its platform to come together to make a real, physical impact on the Great Barrier Reef.
As part of the campaign, Nickelodeon Australia has collaborated with Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef and Emmy award-winning marine film content producers, Biopixel, to develop an educational short-form content series ‘Adventures of the SpongeBob Reef Squad’, which features world-class 4K ocean cinematography.
The seven-part series takes a deep dive into the Great Barrier Reef and uses the innate positivity and humour of SpongeBob to turn complex theory into a fun and engaging experience that captivates and empowers inquisitive young minds.
The locally developed Adventures of the SpongeBob Reef Squad series, which launched on World Oceans Day, Saturday, June 8 on Nickelodeon.
Nickelodeon ANZ general manager and VP, Ben Cox said: “SpongeBob SquarePants has been taking kids into the imaginary underwater world of Bikini Bottom for two decades, so it’s a natural fit for him to guide kids through the Great Barrier Reef and how they can help to protect it.”
Eath Hour founder and Citizens of the Reef CEO, Andy Ridley (pictured below with SpongeBob) said: “We are extremely excited to be part of this innovative initiative and working closely with Nickelodeon to educate kids on the importance of ocean conservation as well as introduce them to a whole new world under the sea.”
Marking its 20th anniversary this July, the global SpongeBob SquarePants franchise was originally conceptualised when its creator, the late Stephen Hillenburg, attempted to make his biology classes more interesting by producing an educational aid comic featuring Bob the Sponge who taught kids the importance of ocean conservation.
SpongeBob has remained grounded to his ocean conservation heritage through themed episodes, including Keep Bikini Bottom Beautiful and SpongeBob’s Last Stand, as well as collaborations with Greenpeace.