Marva Smalls on Record Turnout for ‘Worldwide Day of Play’

by Chanel Cathey, Viacom
Nick Cannon Lights The Empire State Building Orange In Honor Of Nickelodeon's 10th Annual Worldwide Day Of Play

SpongeBob, Nickelodeon Executive Vice President Public Affairs Marva Smalls, Nick Cannon, and Dora the Explorer turn the Empire State Building Orange for 10th Annual. (Photo: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for Nickelodeon)

Nickelodeon’s 10th annual Worldwide Day of Play (WWDoP) was the largest to date with more than 50,000 kids and families from all 50 states and abroad uniting to get up, get out and play. WWDoP staged its flagship event in Brooklyn’s iconic Prospect Park. Stars like SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles joined over 35,000 kids and families to enjoy a day of activities and games, including football, tennis, dancing, double-dutch and a live concert with Big Time Rush and Ariana Grande headlining.

WWDoP partnered with more than 30 national and local organizations, including, the NFL, NBA, USTA, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and YMCA of Greater NY, among others. In New York City, Nick celebrated all week hosting several wellness themed public events across the city with stops at the Intrepid Museum and Union Square. We spoke to Marva Smalls, Executive Vice President of Public Affairs and Administration for the Nickelodeon Group about the day’s significance and the importance of partnership to engage young people.

“Partnership is very much a part of our formula for our public affairs and a core part of Nickelodeon’s pro-social mission because once we connect with the messaging of empowerment, the infrastructure of our national partners is key to creating a place where kids can go to be active” said Smalls. “What we’ve learned is that our national partners who are in the business of connecting with kids as part of their mission, they help fulfill our mission of connecting kids to activities that can help them deliver on their pledges.” Through Nickelodeon’s health and wellness efforts over the past 10 years, millions of kids have pledged to get healthy.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013 “Day of Play” in New York. His proclamation noted his appreciation “of Nickelodeon’s continuing effort to promote health and wellness among children”. WWDOP is essentially the culmination of months of planning and deep collaboration across city government and community based organizations.

“WWDoP in New York this year has truly been a partnership of the city of New York, the many organizations that are here on a regular basis for kids and families, the park’s commission, and the mayor’s office. This is a one day event to remind kids and families of the importance of being active. With New York being the home of our corporate headquarters it’s a great way for our employees to experience the power of our brand. This is the manifestation of linking business to the community and that we are particularly excited about.” – Marva Smalls

After MTV’s recent stop at the Barclays Center for the VMAs, Nick generated more buzz for bringing this extensive outdoor children’s event to the borough for the first time. “All roads are leading to Brooklyn now and Prospect Park has always had great brand identity with our employees” Smalls stated. “It’s an accessible, beautiful park with a large enough footprint that allows us to bring in 50 plus partners, a live concert and all of the activities that we have sponsored.” To make sure kids across the country could experience the WWDoP magic – Nick aired concert nationally, thereby giving new audiences a unique window into Brooklyn.

Worldwide Day of Play is a one-day call to action, but it is an important cornerstone of Nickelodeon’s legacy of promoting positive messaging for children. The network went dark with no programming for three hours on WWDoP to encourage kids to put down the remote and play. Nick’s commitment to health and wellness is evident through activations on the Nick App, partnerships with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign and the “I Play Because” PSAs that run all year long. These are just a few examples of the brand’s engagement in this space, and judging by the thousands of smiles in Prospect Park, they are making a positive impact in our communities.

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