Thursday, September 25, 2008

Children work to save the gorillas. A live webcast on Friday September 26th



Turtle Pond Publications and Scholastic, in association with Dr. Richard Leakey’s Wildlife Direct and the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation through the catalyst of the Clinton Global Initiative, today set in motion a breakthrough campaign to help protect Africa’s endangered mountain gorillas. The campaign includes the first ever Kids Gorilla Summit, an unprecedented gathering of elementary and middle grade students, who will meet to discuss the plight of Africa’s critically endangered mountain gorillas and the release of the children’s book, Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of Their Own (Scholastic Press) by #1 New York Times best-selling team Craig, Isabella and Juliana Hatkoff, Dr. Paula Kahumbu and photographer Peter Greste as well as utilize a myriad of educational, web-based technological tools that will allow kids to actively participate in the mountain gorilla crisis and offer their ideas and solutions. The initiative will underscore the connection between the urgency of the wildlife preservation efforts and the humanitarian issues that are inextricably inter-related.

This integrated campaign was born out of a commitment to action made at the 2007 Clinton Global Initiative shortly after last summer’s tragic massacre of ten of the world’s remaining 720 mountain gorillas, of which, 380 live in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park. As part of the CGI commitment, Craig Hatkoff and daughter Juliana traveled to Rwanda with a delegation to learn first-hand more about the challenges and dynamics.

The purpose of the Kids Gorilla Summit is to enlist students to become “global citizens” and make a commitment to the gorillas and the people of Africa. At the end of the Summit, all the participants are asked to sign the Kids Global Act Pact, which will reflect their commitment to taking action to make a difference. The students will share learning with their peers and continue to get involved by emailing ideas online to a designated website. The campaign also includes utilization of technology and the creation of a multi-platform, standards-based educational program that will help teach children, as well as their teachers and parents, about the critically endangered gorillas. A specially-developed curriculum and online portal, produced by Scholastic, will be distributed to approximately one million students to teach them about the gorillas, their habitat and the Mountain Rangers, and will empower them to become advocates for change.

The Summit will be held in New York City on Friday, September 26 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Scholastic Auditorium. Approximately 180 students in grades five to seven will be in attendance for an age-appropriate discussion with panelists and special guests, including famed anthropologist, Dr. Richard Leakey, founder of WildLife Direct, conservationist and author, Dr. Paula Kahumbu, Trevor Neilson of the Global Philanthropy Group and best-selling children’s author, Craig Hatkoff. First, the children will be taught about the unique challenges the gorillas and the region face. The students will be shown short videos of the gorillas, as well as special animated “Gorillasodes” that were created by students from the U.S. and Rwanda to help spread the word about the gorillas’ plight. Then, the students will be introduced to people from the region, including four reporters who are members of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps, reporting from Africa. After learning about the gorillas and the region, the students will be asked to break off into groups with an expert moderator, who will help them develop their ideas for change.

Students nationwide can participate via a live national webcast at and will be able to email questions to participants so they join in the Summit.

In addition, and, created jointly by Turtle Pond and Scholastic, will offer students up-to-date information on the gorillas brought from WildLife Direct’s field-based blogs written by the Mountain Rangers and other activities and resources. Students will be encouraged to share ideas about helping the gorillas.

Available in bookstores nationwide, Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of Their Own tells the story of a baby female mountain gorilla, Miza, whose mother was one of the ten gorillas killed last summer. Miza was rescued by her father, following the tragedy and was reunited with the rest of her family. Miza almost died, but thanks to the efforts of the Congolese Mountain Rangers and Kabirizi’s family of 30 gorillas who cared for her, she has thrived. The book brings to light the gorillas’ struggle and underscores the sacrifice and heroism of the mountain rangers and their critical role in the survival of this endangered species.

The book was written by the authors of the #1 New York Times best-selling Owen & Mzee series, Craig Hatkoff and daughter Isabella (9), Dr. Paula Kahumbu and photographer/journalist Peter Greste. Hatkoff's older daughter Juliana (13) also collaborated on Looking for Miza. This is the fourth inspiring nonfiction picture book written by the Hatkoffs and published by Scholastic about remarkable animals overcoming adversity. Their popular series of issues-based children’s books, including Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship (2006), Owen and Mzee: The Language of Friendship (2007), and Knut: How One Little Polar Bear Changed the World (2007), introduces kids to real world issues and empowers them to effect change on our planet.

About The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI)Established in 2005 as a project of the non-partisan William J. Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) convenes global leaders to devise and implement innovative solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. Since 2005, CGI members have made nearly 1,000 Commitments to Action valued at upwards of $30 billion to improve more than 200 million lives in over 150 countries around the world. Through past Annual Meetings, CGI has brought together more than 80 current and former heads of state, hundreds of top CEOs and non-profit leaders, major philanthropists, and 10 of the last 16 Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

About Turtle Pond Publications
Turtle Pond Publications is a private entertainment and media company based in New York. Its interests include a variety of children's publishing ventures and other media investments including the Tribeca Film Festival. Looking for Miza: The True Story of the Mountain Gorilla Family Who Rescued One of Their Own (Scholastic Press), is the next in the series of books from Turtle Pond which depicts real life stories of animals in unique situations overcoming adversity.

About Wildlife Direct
Wildlife Direct was started by Richard Leakey to create the world’s largest online conservation community and raise awareness and funds for conservation in some of the worlds most endangered and dangerous places. Operating deep in the jungles of eastern Congo, blogs written by rangers last year alerted the world to the crisis facing mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Ranger Innocent and Ranger Diddy’s voices from the front lines of conservation on their Wildlife Direct blog provide a unique opportunity for anyone anywhere in the world to participate in the conservation of one of the world’s most charismatic and most endangered species: the mountain gorillas. Funds raised through the blogs have enabled the Congolese wildlife authority, The Congolese Nature Conservation Institute (ICCN) to continue wildlife conservation activities on the ground despite the ongoing crisis. Wildlife Direct will use Miza to raise awareness and support for mountain gorillas throughout their ranges in Congo, Rwanda and Uganda. Looking for Miza’s co-author, Dr. Paula Kahumbu, is an ecologist and Head of Conservation, Policy and Partnerships at WildlifeDirect, where she is in charge of developing conservation partnerships and establishing new blogs.

About Scholastic
Scholastic Corporation (NASDAQ: SCHL) is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and a leader in educational technology and children’s media. Scholastic creates quality educational and entertaining materials and products for use in school and at home, including children's books, magazines, technology-based products, teacher materials, television programming, film, videos and toys.

About Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation
The mission of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation is to support and promote the creation of a culture of peace throughout the world. In the spirit of founder, Nobel Peace Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and in collaboration with the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre of South Africa, the foundation is dedicated to advancing reconciliation, peace-building, non-violence, conflict resolution, and ethical leadership so that all may live in a more peaceable and sustainable world.

About Global Philanthropy Group and Trevor Neilson
Global Philanthropy Group advises the world's leading philanthropists, working with high net worth individuals, charitable foundations and corporations to design and implement highly-leveraged philanthropic strategies. The group’s management expertise and proprietary network of global experts help clients achieve lasting, meaningful results. Global Philanthropy Group, lead by President Trevor Neilson, encompasses pressing global issues including economic development, education, poverty, HIV/AIDS, disaster recovery and redevelopment, refugees, microfinance, water, global health, immigration, orphans, foster care, global trade, malnutrition, climate change, green building, malaria, conservation, crimes against humanity, genocide and childhood obesity. Trevor Neilson has advised a number of the world's leading philanthropists, including Bono, Bill Gates, Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Shakira, President Bill Clinton, and Sir Richard Branson, and has been involved in the creation and implementation of many of the world's most respected philanthropic initiatives.

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