Is Radio Disney Bringing Its Pro-Fracking Road Show To A School Near You? [UPDATE]

By Kevin Robinson in News on Jan 9, 2014 9:30PM

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Update, 3:40 p.m.: Score one for environmental activist and Sierra Club. Huffington Post reports "following a petition from activist organization Climate Parents that has garnered over 80,000 signatures and a #DisneyFracked Twitter campaign from the Sierra Club, Disney has announced it is ending its partnership with Ohio's oil and gas industry." Looks like the environment gets a happy fairytale Disney ending with this story at least.

An "educational program" produced by Radio Disney and funded by the oil and gas industry has Ohio parents and environmentalists up in arms over its presentation to elementary schoolchildren.

"Rocking in Ohio," led by three staffers from Radio Disney's Cleveland affiliate ("home of the hottest kids' music"), put on interactive demonstrations of how oil and gas pipelines work during a 26-stop tour of Ohio elementary schools.

According to Al-Jazeera, "in each of the 26 demonstrations, a Radio Disney DJ named Taylor Bell directed teams of kids as they raced to build pipelines out of plastic straws. The first team to get three pingpong balls through the “pipelines” won the game. The kids were cheered on by Radio Disney employees and teachers as pop music played in the background." And while Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program executive director Rhonda Reda thinks that such a program "allows science to be fun," environmental activists are suspicious.

"It's about brainwashing our children," Teresa Mills, an activist and staffer at the Center for Health, Environment and Justice told the Akron Beacon Journal. And Robert Shields, chair of the Sierra Club's Ohio chapter, told Al-Jazeera that he doesn't "think it’s doing the children or the state of Ohio any good... Kids’ ability to reason is not yet quite established, so it feels to me that they’re getting some kind of propaganda.”

This isn't OOGEEP's first foray into educational programming. Since its founding in 1998 the group says it has reached some 100,000 students with its programming which includes a speakers bureau, curriculum materials, science fair support and scholarships. But this appears to be the first time they've partnered with a children's entertainment company. Disney says that if successful, they will take the tour to other states as well.