The concepts of viral videos and memes are relatively new, something that has only developed during the digital era. Sure, there have always been print and broadcast images that people can't help but share, but the Internet has taken the idea of "viral" to an entirely new level. These videos have the potential to reach millions, as demonstrated by videos like KONY 2012, which has been viewed 99 million times since it was posted in March 2012.
Viral videos tend to have a few things in common. They provide audiences with key information assembled in an easy-to-understand, visual manner. These videos often rely on certain elements of entertainment, like infectious song or dance, as was the case with Psy's "Gangnam Style." Organizations can use these elements to craft viral videos of their own, and draw attention to charitable causes. Additionally, YouTube is an extremely accessible platform, making it easy for youth to participate in these projects and rise to viral stardom. Check out some of these amazing showcases of talent.
Patients and hospital staff lip sync to Katy Perry's "Roar" in this stirring and empowering music video shot at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire. Youth diagnosed with chronic illnesses don't often get a chance to share their stories with the world, and Children's Hospital is working to change that. Get inspired by watching these youth dance, grin, and have fun. Videos like these help us get a behind the scenes look at the health care community, and they raise awareness about the importance of medical research funding.
Gibson Kids Rock
Many people don't equate lottery tickets with philanthropy, however the system in New York actually contributes a portion of lottery ticket sales to the state's school districts. In 2013, the New York Lottery was able to contribute $3.04 billion in education funding, a substantial percentage of school budgets. Students attending the Mott Haven Academy in the Bronx are helping to raise awareness about the lottery's contribution to education by starring in this 30 second commercial, which is set in the unassuming environment of a convenience store.
A man purchases a lottery ticket, and shoppers are astonished to see the walls open up into a wide stage. The students launch into an exhilarating a cappella rendition of Andrew Gold's "Thank You for Being a Friend." The Gibson Kids Rock music program is a creative outlet for underserved children in New York, and these kids show off their dance moves and awesome vocals with confidence, bringing joy to the shoppers' faces. If only scenes like this could happen all the time at convenience stores!
Would You Give Your Jacket to Johannes?
The civil unrest in Syria is taking a massive toll on the youth in this country. In an effort to urge citizens to donate warm clothes for displaced youth, the organization SOS Children's Villages release a heart wrenching video that focused on a child sitting at a bus stop, surrounded by snow. His arms are crossed and he is shivering hard – the light jacket he's wearing isn't enough to keep him warm.
Strangers who arrive at the bus stop offer him the jackets off their own backs. It's both endearing and tragic to watch Johannes wearing adult's jackets that are so big, they almost touch the ground. There seems to be no shortage of strangers who will help a child in need, when they are confronted with the situation during their daily routine. The Johannes commercial is a reminder that a simple article of clothing can contribute to a child's survival.
This ad is so successful, that it won a Cannes Award in 2012. A health charity in Thailand wanted to remind adult smokers why the habit is so bad for them in an extremely innovative way. Smoking is one of those odd psychological challenges – we know just how bad it is for our health, and yet people continue to smoke and suffer from the extremely negative health consequences.
Child actors took to the streets, approaching smoking adults and asking "for a light." In all of these instances, the adults were shocked, replying, "No, you're too young!" These smokers would then lecture the children on all of the medical risks of smoking, while ironically puffing on their own cigarettes. The children would listen attentively as the adults described the effects in horrifying detail, trying to scare them away from the habit.
After receiving the lectures, the children hand the smokers a paper and walk away. The slips carry a simple message: "You worry about me. But why not about yourself?" with details for a quit smoking hotline. The cameras record the smokers' reactions as they pause in thought.
Viral videos featuring youth talent are being used around the world to highlight good causes. They often include a strong call to action with a unique way of delivering a message. These amazingly talented young actors and actresses are helping to change the world one video at a time.