Spacetoon Kids TV: Educating Kids on the Dangers of ERW

by Daniele Ressler [Mine Action Information Center]

Image 2Spacetoon may be known to many across the Arab-speaking world for its television channel that is geared toward children, Spacetoon Kids TV. This channel is transmitted to over 50 million people in the Middle East and North Africa and features cartoons dubbed into Arabic and child-appropriate TV programs. The objectives of Spacetoon Kids TV include being educational, family-friendly and acceptable to Arab culture; promoting positive social values such as tolerance and teamwork; and inspiring creativity. Spacetoon Kids TV strives to communicate with children using age-effective and nurturing methods in both Arabic and English.

Spacetoon, however, is more than just television. This United Arab Emirates-based company, Spacetoon Media Group, is a media foundation group that consists of a Spacetoon Kids television channel, Spacetoon online, Spacetoon radio and Spacetoon productions (including a monthly magazine and videos). With this many communication media, Spacetoon is able to spread educational messages effectively to many children in a variety of ways.

One important part of Spacetoon Kids TV is its production of public-service programs and announcements that promote issues such as appropriate childcare and respect for the environment. It is in this capacity that organizations such as the Arab League, UNICEF and World Health Organization have sponsored advertising and announcements in order to raise awareness and educate children on a variety of humanitarian issues.

Spacetoon and MRE in the Middle East

Among other educational campaigns, the Spacetoon Kids TV Regional Office in Jordan is working to bring a specific kind of message to kids: Mines and UXO are dangerous. The Jordan office is the only regional office responsible for developing humanitarian-specific educational programs and campaigns on topics such as democracy, human rights and mine risk education, which can then cover any or all the Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa through Spacetoon media. Hussam Hadi, Regional Manager, and Rami Allawama, Program Planning Manager, told us that due to the dangers the Lebanese and Iraqi children face these days, they feel a great need to warn them about the dangers of cluster bombs.1

Image 1
This image was one used for MRE in Iraq in 2005 for MAG. The main "glowing ball" character, Taif, was featured in the MRE campaign and delivered all the safety messages to children through posters, TV cartoon spots and copybooks. Photo courtesy of Bashar Kh. Ahmad / Spacetoon Kids TV–Jordan

The Spacetoon Jordanian office receives humanitarian and educational messages that donors and nongovernmental organizations want to disseminate. The company staff then designs a storyboard and characters who deliver these important messages, such as MRE, to children throughout the Arab regions via cartoons, TV documentaries and programs, posters, leaflets, calendars, gifts, activity packets and more. Hadi and Allawama note, "Because the children in the Arab world watch and love this channel, its characters and programs, we are able to communicate effectively timely messages to parents and children alike."1

Lebanon faces a post-conflict situation in which the need for MRE is great—especially for children. According to the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre of South Lebanon, children have accounted for seven of the 23 fatalities and 49 of the 136 injuries as of November 13, 2006.2 Cluster submunitions can be particularly dangerous because some may resemble toys due to their small size and colorful ribbon. Children playing may find these curious items and touch them, an action that has the potential to detonate the unexploded ordnance.

Spacetoon Kids TV recognizes the need in Lebanon for MRE for children. Hadi and Allawama say that at the Regional Office in Jordan, "we have a full package campaign designed especially for Lebanese children including TV spots, posters, flyers, activity books and notebooks."1 The company is looking for donors who are interested in distributing their educational materials, which are designed to provide MRE in Arabic using child-friendly and culturally sensitive techniques with cartoon characters and popular programming.

Spacetoon's Regional Office has gained experience providing MRE and awareness-raising campaigns about the dangers of mines and explosive remnants of war through its work with Iraqi children. RONCO Consulting Corporation and the U.S. Department of State funded two projects in 2004 through Iraq's National Mine Action Authority and the Ministry of Planning, broadcasting MRE messages for children and adults over two satellite channels. In 2005, Mines Advisory Group funded a project for one year through the Iraqi Health and Social Care Organization, which provided MRE messages through a cartoon series with characters, posters, leaflets, brochures and a school copybook design.

Conclusion

With the help of new donor sponsors, Spacetoon's Regional Office in Jordan plans to address the urgent need of ensuring children's safety in Lebanon, as well as to continue to deliver MRE activities in Iraq where children are also still at great risk.

Biography

HeadshotDaniele Ressler works as a researcher, writer and Assistant Editor for the Journal of Mine Action. She holds a Master of Science in violence, conflict and development studies from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. She has studied in Switzerland as well, earning a Certificate for Applied Studies in peacemaking. Daniele has previously worked in Washington, D.C., and Seattle, Washington, in the field of conflict management, and has also lived in Nairobi, Kenya.

Endnotes

  1. E-mail correspondence on November 13 and 16, 2006 with Rami Allawama, Program Planning Director for Spacetoon Kids TV Regional Office–Jordan. E-mail statements were written by both Allawama and Hussam Hadi, Regional Manager for Spacetoon Kids TV Regional Office–Jordan.
  2. "Mine Action Coordination Centre South Lebanon Unexploded Ordnance Fact Sheet." Mine Action Coordination Centre of South Lebanon. November 13, 2006. http://www.mineaction.org/overview.asp?o=540. Accessed November 16, 2006.

Contact Information

Daniele Ressler, MSc
Researcher / Assistant Editor
Journal of Mine Action
Mine Action Information Center
E-mail: maic@jmu.edu

Hussam A. Hadi
Regional Manager
Spacetoon Regional Office–Jordan
P.O Box 541104
Amman 11937 / Jordan
Tel: +962 6 560 4556
Fax: +962 6 560 4557
Cell: +962 799 336 659
E-mail: hussam@spacetoonjordan.com
Web site: http://www.spacetoonjordan.com

Rami A. Allawama
Program Planning Manager
Spacetoon Regional Office–Jordan
Cell: +962 777 475 754
E-mail: rami@spacetoonjordan.com