By Laura Turner Seydel

On Sept. 15, 1990 one of our fragile coastlines fell victim to an oil rig operation gone bad. While the danger seemed grave, this oil spill was resolved quickly thanks to Captain Planet, the world’s first eco-superhero, who burst into action to save the day.

In his animated debut, Captain Planet called upon his Planeteers – a group of five teenagers, each with their own elemental super power – to combat the eco-wrongdoers and ultimately restore the coastline to its original splendor.
Today, as Captain Planet and the Planeteers celebrates the 20th anniversary of that very first episode, we are experiencing our own real-life oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While we may not have a green-haired super hero to swoop down with a quick fix, we are reminded of Captain Planet’s important message that “with our powers combined,” we can be leaders for change.

When my dad, Ted Turner, created Captain Planet and the Planeteers, he aimed to educate youth on the importance of our environment, while at the same time empowering them to become environmental stewards.  Little did he know that the episodes he created – tackling everything from endangered species to a depleting Ozone layer to recycling – would remain valuable teaching tools 20 years later.

Though only lasting six seasons, Mother Nature Network (www.mnn.com) keeps Captain Planet’s legacy alive by featuring all 113 classic episodes for families to watch, learn and discuss. Make it a priority to watch Captain Planet with your children and use the episodes to inspire actions beyond everyday acts like recycling and carpooling. Encourage your children to step up their efforts, become more involved within the community and be more proactive in getting legislators to put policies in place to protect our planet.

For more information about Captain Planet and the Planeteers and the Captain Planet Foundation, visit: www.captainplanetfdn.org.

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.