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Kip Cummings is the creator of Surfari Pals.
An exciting new feature is coming to Metro Leader beginning in April, and this is one that your kids will want to hear about. Surfari Pals, a program designed to engage children in learning character skills and have fun while doing it, will debut in next month’s issue. Characters like Amanda the Angelfish, Greg the Great White Shark, and Sandy the Sand Dollar will be introducing life-skills that every child needs to know.
Creator Kip Cummings began developing Surfari Pals years ago, and his joy and purpose for the program have only gotten stronger over time. The seeds for his passion project were sown when he was just a child, growing up in Bell Gardens, Calif. “When I was growing up, I had this really awesome neighbor that cared for all the kids in the neighborhood,” said Cummings. “He was a WWII disabled vet named Monty Heistand. He was like the citywide babysitter that you couldn’t wait to see. He had all the kids in the neighborhood down at his house, and everything he did for us was so selfless. He taught kids just to be good kids.”
Once he became a parent, Cummings passed along the lessons he had learned as a child – to be kind, to have proper etiquette, to think of others – but he was able to see that so many other children were not being educated with those same manners. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve seen that kids are just not taught to be friendly anymore. That kindness and that gentleness are missing, I think, in a lot of kids. Not because they’re bad kids, it’s just something that is not taught as much anymore. Without showing them or teaching them those character skills, they get blamed for things they don’t know how to do. I started thinking, ‘What’s a way I can help these kids somehow?’”
Surfari Pals became that way to introduce character-building skills to a new generation. Each Surfari Pal is based on a sea creature and has its own particular lesson to share. Some skills are tangible (like Julian the Jellyfish who teaches children not to talk with their mouth full, or Earl the Electric Eel who encourages kids to turn the lights off when they leave the room); while other skills are more abstract (Laura and Lew the Lionfish remind everyone to be honest and courageous, and Howard the Halibut teaches children how to introduce themselves). When kids complete the goal that each character has set, they receive a Certificate of Awesomeness for their accomplishment.
“One of the other things that I think is important is I am engaging the local community to sponsor those certificates,” said Cummings. By teaming up with restaurants to redeem certificates, kids – and their parents – will be rewarded for learning important life skills.
Cummings, along with Surfari Pals artist Jeff Welborn, is expanding the Surfari Pals world on the Internet, with an official website launch in August and YouTube videos that will feature characters with their own songs and adventures to teach children. He also has plans to create a Surfari Pals app that kids will be able to use to create their own Surfari world online and will bring the beach in reach to every child.
Although Surfari Pals is geared towards children, Cummings said the life skills the program teaches are for every age. “It’s not just the kids who are learning; sometimes it’s the parents who are learning for the first time.”
Be sure to check in the April issue so your child can learn how to become an official Surfari Pal. Visit www.surfaripals.com to learn more.