BURBANK, Calif., and ZACHARY, LA – April 1, 2011 – The Walt Disney Company today announced Ms. Breigh Rainey’s and Ms. Kristy Gilpin’s second and third grade combination Zachary Elementary School class as the national elementary grand prize winner of Disney’s Planet Challenge, an environmental and science competition for 3rd – 8th grade classrooms. The elementary school competition includes grades 3-5 (plus combination classrooms). The winner of the national middle school competition, launched in fall 2010, will be announced later this month.
“Disney’s Planet Challenge is the in-school program for Disney’s Friends for Change, a multi-platform initiative which focuses on inspiring kids and families around the world to take simple steps to help the planet and their communities.
“This year’s newly-expanded competition drew thousands of students from across the United States and featured a tremendous variety of projects, including cafeteria composting in Kentucky, the clean-up of local lakes in Florida and an improved watershed in Oregon. Students and teachers spent long hours of classroom and field work to create environmental portfolios, document their research, implement solutions and engage their local communities.
Winners were chosen by a judging committee comprised of scientists, environmental experts and educators including representatives from the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and WestEd K-12 Alliance. State and regional winners will be announced this week on the program website www.disney.com/planetchallenge.
Ms. Rainey’s and Ms. Gilpin’s class entitled their project “Zachary Elementary Wetland Warriors – Fighting to Save Our Coast”. Spurred by concern over Louisiana’s eroding coastline and the threat to the wetlands ecosystem, the budding environmentalists built a school nursery, grew hundreds of grass plants and replanted them along the coastal beach area of Grand Isle. They are currently raising nearly 2,000 plants for next year’s 3rd grade classroom wetlands project. In addition, the winning students wrote and published books about the Louisiana Wetlands in an effort to educate the community. Money raised from the sale of those books will be used for wetland preservation. The Zachary students also secured a deal with local radio stations to broadcast their Coastal Roots podcast to help spread the word about their conservation efforts.
The winning class will be guests of honor in a recognition ceremony and parade at Disneyland© on May 6th, 2011, and featured on Disney Channel as youth environmental leaders. Regional and state winners will receive classroom grants, Disney prize packages, NSTA memberships and more.
Disney’s Planet Challenge promotes project-based learning and provides tailored lesson plans customized to reflect the curriculum standards of each state and grade level (grades 3-8). Disney’s Planet Challenge also offers a grant matching initiative with DonorsChoose.org, an online charity that connects individual “citizen philanthropists” with classrooms in need.
Disney’s Planet Challenge enrollment for the 2011/2012 school year is open now atwww.disney.com/planetchallenge.
About Disney’s Planet Challenge
Disney’s Planet Challenge is a free, project-based environmental program that empowers students to make a difference in school, at home and in their local communities. With more than 15 years experience running highly-acclaimed classroom environmental competitions in regional markets including California and Florida (as “Disney’s Environmentality Challenge™”), Disney developed the new Disney’s Planet Challenge in response to growing demand across all 50 states. Program collaborations with the National Science Teachers Association, the WestEd K-12 Alliance, the U.S. and California Environmental Protection Agencies, the U.S. Department of Fish & Wildlife and the California Department of Education are designed to ensure academic and environmental excellence. For more information, please visit www.disney.com/planetchallenge.
About Disney’s Friends For Change
Disney’s Friends for Change is a multi-platform initiative that helps inspire kids and families to join together and make a positive impact on their world (and the people and animals that live there). Through PSAs on-air and online tool-kits, the program aims to provide useful information to help kids make small changes that add up to big differences. As part of the program, Disney donates $1 million dollars annually to fund projects all around the globe and has funded over 41 projects that help the planet ranging from educational & community programs to species & habitat protection. Friends for Change currently has over 3 million actions taking place from kids in 33 countries throughout Europe, Latin America, Japan, India, and China. For more information, please visithttp://disney.go.com/projectgreen.