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Zoom Into Action

In the ‘70s, the live-action PBS kids show for tweens and teens, Zoom, was a household name, with kids singing the show producer, WGBH’s zip code, “0-2-1-3-4” and speaking in the program’s unique language, “Ubbi Dubbi.” When Zoom returned 15 years later into a digital world, it reinvented itself with a “by kids, for kids” interactive format to create an ongoing dialogue with its viewers. The daily, interactive TV series and state-of-the-art website challenged five to eleven-year-olds to "turn off the TV and do it." The program featured a cast of seven everyday kids playing games, performing plays, tackling science experiments, telling stories, reading poetry, solving brainteasers, whipping up recipes, and bringing ideas to life sent in by viewers from across the country. The new Zoom also featured ZoomZone museum exhibits, ClubZoom after school programs, and Zoom surveys, giving a public voice to kids.

In a time of increased kids' agency there was opportunity for more. Enter Zoom Into Action, a multi-platform campaign motivating kids to volunteer in their communities. The cast members became spokespeople, featuring their causes on air and encouraging the Zoom-er audience to do the same. And they did. Zoom-ers shared thousands of volunteering ideas and efforts on the website. The concept took off so PBS helped the 350 PBS stations create Zoom Into Action segments of Zoom highlighting regular kids throughout the country as they volunteered within their communities. The stations kicked off their own Zoom Into Action campaigns, forming partnerships with local community groups to create events and activities to get kids excited about volunteering. Zoom created Zoom kits to help stations with their action campaigns and the local production process. The website offered resources on volunteering and honored the kids who volunteered. Following the attacks of 9/11, Zoom Into Action produced two specials, America's Kids Respond and America's Kids Remember, showcasing kids helping first responders.  


Since the inception of the Zoom Into Action’s on air, online, and in-community initiative – kids have volunteered thousands of hours  – helping elders, raising money, and cleaning up the environment. The initiative transformed Zoom from fun and educational, into inspirational and motivational. When Zoom Into Action was introduced in the second season, Zoom won an Emmy for best “Children’s Series, almost doubled its ratings, and received extensive sponsorship, which secured its future. Zoom ended after seven seasons, but Zoom Into Action continues today with ‘90s cast members recording segments for GBH’s YouTube channel.

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