Race to 250,000 views on YouTube for Syrian children

Saturday , August 16, 2014 - 9:41 AM

By SONJA CARLSON Standard-Examiner staff

OGDEN — Syria is currently one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a child, according to UNICEF. In fact, 6.5 million children have been affected by the conflict since its beginning in 2011 and approximately half of those affected by the violence are children. 

Joel Robbins, an Ogden native and Weber State University graduate, is a member of the GoBoka Play team -- a YouTube channel that uses videos to tell positive stories that they believe can change the world. 

Robbins, along with team members Matthew Butler and Jenny Ljung, have made a video that features Syrian children playing with colorful chalk “bombs.” If the video receives more than 250,000 views by Sept. 3, sponsors Guerilla Aid and the Make Life Better Foundation will donate a turf soccer field so these kids can have a place to play -- and a safe one at that. 

“A few months ago when the Syrian conflict was at the peak of media coverage in the U.S. I was seeing numerous stories about the awful situations and sad stories about refugee children and it was heartbreaking,” Robbins told the Standard-Examiner. “These people are having to call tents with dirt floors home. And the refugees that live in more settled camps like the one we filmed in, Shatila, are living in over-crowded spaces. Over 25,000 people live in a one kilometer area.”

With a connection working for non-governmental organization War Child in Beirut, Lebanon that helps Syrian refugee children, Robbins “saw an opportunity to do something more,” he said. The YouTube channel then partnered with War Child and “one thing led to another.” 

GoBoka Play believes in something they like to call “social currency.” According to the video description, they believe that YouTube viewers have the ability to do something greater than simply donating some money. 

“Social currency is the notion that your influence across social media platforms is more valuable than a one-time personal monetary donation,” the description reads. 

These children need a chance to be kids again, Butler says in the video. 

GoBoka Play knows how influential social media can be. Everyone can help do something great for Syrian refugee children by sharing the video and asking friends and followers to do the same. 

“Play it forward!” 

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