Disney Channel Stars Debby Ryan (“Jessie”), Bella Thorne and Zendaya (“Shake It Up”), and
Ross Lynch and Laura Marano (“Austin & Ally”) Serve as Inaugural Ambassadors
$750,000 in Grants Awarded as Part of Program Launch
BURBANK, Calif., June 18, 2012 – Disney Friends for Change, a global initiative that inspires kids and families to take action and make a difference in their communities, today announced that Disney Channel stars Debby Ryan (“Jessie”), Bella Thorne and Zendaya (“Shake It Up”), and Ross Lynch and Laura Marano (“Austin & Ally”) will serve as Friends for Change Ambassadors, encouraging kids and families to make a lasting, positive change by helping people, communities, and the planet.
In collaboration with select non-profit organizations, Disney Friends for Change Ambassadors will lead campaigns to engage millions of kids to take action and volunteer. Each nonprofit will receive a Disney Friends for Change grant to further the reach and impact of the themed campaign. In total, $750,000 will be awarded to the following three efforts:
- “Helping Communities – Volunteer,” led by Debby Ryan and in collaboration with Free The Children (from June 29 – August 16)
- “Helping People – Be a Leader,” featuring Bella Thorne and Zendaya, and in collaboration with Free The Children (from August 17 – September 27)
- “Helping the Planet – Green Your Scene,” championed by Ross Lynch and Laura Marano, and in collaboration with TreePeople (from September 28 – November 30)
“We are so excited about the real difference kids are making every day using our action kits and volunteering in their communities,” said Leslie Goodman, senior vice president for Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy at The Walt Disney Company. “Through the leadership and encouragement of our Disney Friends for Change Ambassadors, we hope to inspire millions of more kids to take action and change their worlds.”
Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide, said, “The bond our viewers have with our talent is deep and powerful. As ambassadors of Friends for Change, our talent can serve as a megaphone for the importance of pro-active community involvement, motivating kids and their families to discover the many rewarding ways we can all make our world a better place to live.” He continued, “I often talk to my team about extending our value as a company beyond the TV screen, and this initiative does an exemplary job of that – and for this, I could not be prouder.”
As part of the program, Disney Channel will debut a series of interstitial messages, featuring the Disney Friends for Change Ambassadors beginning MONDAY, JUNE 18. Disney Channel, Radio Disney, and Disney.com will chronicle the Ambassadors throughout the summer as they volunteer and inspire kids of all ages to lead. Also part of the interstitial series and debuting FRIDAY, JUNE 29, Debby Ryan will share her personal experience volunteering in India through Disney Friends for Change with Free The Children, where she helped build a new school for a local village. Inspired by the stories and efforts of Disney Friends for Change kids, Debby helped to start the Ambassadors program.
To coincide with the on-air interstitials, Friends for Change will offer tools and resources at www.disney.com/friends where kids and families can discover additional ideas on how to make a difference. Site visitors are able to download action kits, learn more about the Ambassadors’ campaigns, and participate in the new Shout Out Module, an online forum that allows kids and families to motivate each other and exchange tips on actions to help their schools and neighborhoods. Families can also vote online to further support each Ambassador’s campaign and help thousands of more kids as a result.