Monday, April 19, 2010

Ecoman goes by walking school bus

by Eleonora Anello

Green suit and cape, a large E on his chest and a single mission: to teach children to be leading a greener lifestyle healthy and sustainable. It's called Ecoman and is the new superhero created by the Italian Ministry of Environment and the Regional Environmental Center (REC).

The comic will be distributed in booklet form and was presented at Parma, at the Fifth Conference on Environment and Health (March 10 to 12) led by the Italian Ministries of Environment and Health and WHO Europe. The ecological superman, a figure near to the youth imaginary, with the motto “Il nostro agire fa la differenza” ("Our work makes the difference"), poses specific questions to the inhabitants of Asmaville, sickly children, choked by smog and numbed by a lack of movement, on environmental key issues, such as water, electricity, health and climate change.

In the advertising campaign targeting young segment, the comic is widely exploited for its ability to arouse interest, especially for its iconic power and its simple language. In addition to the message that want to convey, its sequence and its static nature, in conflict with the YouTube generation to which it is addressed, can involve the user thanks to its characteristic white space separating the cartoons, filled by the imagination of the reader. And you know, the recipient involved is probably more easily manipulated.
What it raises some concerns about the campaign is not much the choice of the comics, but that of the cartoon character: caring environment, is it truly a heroic act?

Going to school walking bus, as recommended Ecoman, is a fact so extraordinary? To see what happens in Cremona (Lombardy – Italy) since 2006 would not seam. Active in 8 primary schools, 20 lines in operation, 253 children enrolled, 123 carers between parents and volunteers, 13 km route each day, the Cremonese walking bus is operated by the Laboratorio dei Bambini of the Educational Policies Sector of the Municipality is part of a larger project “Io cammino... alla grande!” (“I walk ... great!”) which deals with the future citizens to spread the knowledge of the area, its landmarks, the stories and develop an emotional bond with their places of life.

Stefania Reale, head of the walking school bus, explains how, unlike Ecoman project, «The promotion of the service is actually divided the territory through various levels: from meetings with parents, to the dissemination of a brochure and a poster (especially to search for new companions); from the information presence at the event of the city, to the constantly updating the website and the newsletter allows us to communicate with members. The City also organizes an annual competition and a party with lots of awards for both children and adults, in order to increase the enrolments and to involve the schools should live the walking school bus as an educational service to be implemented in collaboration with the families».

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