Empowering Eco-Action Through Play
by Tovah Barocas
It was while attending post-secondary in Toronto as a student from the U.S., Tovah developed a passionate connection with the Canadian landscape. As her love for conservation and the environment grew, her forward thinking mindset had her looking for an opportunity to make a difference. Since joining Earth Rangers in 2009, Tovah, now president, has contributed to shaping the organization’s remarkable innovative vision. Throughout her tenure, she has developed countless partnerships and programs that helped grow Earth Rangers into the largest kids’ conservation organization in the world. In recognition of her work, the Ontario government named Tovah one of the province’s top “trailblazing woman” in honor of International Women’s Day for leading and shaping the future. In 2021, Tovah co-authored a white paper on eco-anxiety in kids and outlined a list of compelling recommendations to address this growing issue. A 2022 Clean50 Emerging Leader Award Recipient, Tovah also serves on both the Ontario Parks Board of Directors and Project Learning Tree Canada.
Earth Rangers is the charity that transforms children’s concerns about the environment into positive action. When a child becomes an Earth Ranger, they become an animal saving hero, developing confidence that they can make a difference and optimism about the future.
Through a variety of programs and content, we empower kids to become environmental leaders at home and in their communities. From organizing shoreline clean-ups, to creating backyard animal habitats, to reducing food waste and energy consumption at home, our members are committed to leaving the world better than they found it — and having a whole lot of fun doing it.
For more eco-activities and eco-inspiration, visit earthrangers.com or download the Earth Rangers App and sign your child up for a free membership.
Have you ever noticed how a child’s face lights up when they talk about animals? It could be a story about their cat, who quite clearly has the magical ability to know exactly when they need a cuddle. They could get equally excited about telling you how a squirrel leapt from a tree branch onto their roof! Animals have cool superpowers, after all.
Kids also know that many animals are in trouble.
Being exposed to consistent negative news stories about the environment means our children are becoming more and more worried about the future of our planet - the term eco-anxiety is now commonly used to describe these feelings. As an organization, Earth Rangers has been at the forefront of this growing issue, conducting research to better understand how to address the growing prevalence of eco-anxiety in kids.
We learned that some level of concern about the planet can be useful and healthy when it leads to action. We also saw straightforward evidence that action led to increased feelings of optimism about the future and confidence in a child’s ability to make an impact.
That’s why Earth Rangers’ programming is rooted in eco-action and play! The activities found in the free Earth Rangers App are purposefully designed to tap into a child’s desire to help animals and have fun. We’re also determined to help parents navigate the tricky waters of discussing environmental issues, like the increased frequency of natural disasters, with their kids. That’s why we created an eco-anxiety parent guide loaded with helpful suggestions on how to listen and validate a child’s concerns while helping to channel their energy into positive environmental action.
Eco-activities that live in the Creative Corner section in the Eco Rangers app are immensely popular with parents and kids. Our Find a Tree Game for example, is a scavenger hunt and sensory experience wrapped into one. Putting on a blindfold and having a child feel the bark of a tree is such a wonderful way to get kids to truly connect with nature. Once they take the blindfold off, they have to run around and find which one is “their” tree!
Crafts are another way to tap into a child’s love of animals and nurture creativity.
Our Make a Badger Mask has been a hit with kids who love the idea of pretending to be one of their favorite animals.
If your child is into edible pieces of art, our Rice Cake Owls has been one of our most popular eco-activities this year.
Kids need and deserve to be inspired and empowered. They also need action-oriented ways to feel like they’re making a difference. Our Stash-the-Trash Mission, for example, helps Earth Rangers organize a local litter clean-up. The mission brief includes step-by-step instructions and highlights the many benefits of keeping our communities trash-free.
It can feel overwhelming when we hear the latest headline that the planet is in crisis. Turning that concern into small actions can help transform eco-anxiety into eco-action. The power of play takes things up a notch and helps turn fun into eco-friendly habits that have the potential to stick. Animals do have awesome superpowers, but they need our support. The good news is; this generation of kids is eager to help them.