I’ve been critical about major non-religious organizations’ publicity campaigns in the past, but the American Humanist Association has really hit it out of the park with Kids Without God. The site, launched today, provides valuable resources for kids and teens looking to grow up Humanist, and parents who want to help them – all wrapped in an attractive well-designed package.
I’m a particular fan of Darwin the Dog, who encourages kids to take 7 promises representative of the Humanist worldview:
Totes adorbs! And where can I get a Happy Human dog tag? Videos of Bill Nye – somewhat dated but still charming – and instructions for performing science experiments round out a wholesome offering which puts a happy, whimsical face on Humanism which is quite unlike anything I’ve seen before.
The teens section has an appropriately “teenaged” scribbled aesthetic, some astute articles on Humanist music, and rather excellent selection of downloadable posters expressing Humanist values. Also poignant are pieces on how to respond to bullying due to being a Humanist, and legal resources for teens who find their rights being trampled.
One note of dissension (I wouldn’t be myself if I refrained from criticism!): I’m not certain about the wisdom of the “I’m Getting a Bit Old for Imaginary Friends” slogan which is used on some of the publicity materials for the site. The slogan is likely to appear in a lot of the coverage of the launch, and there’s a question in my mind as to whether this will help or hinder the campaign in terms of connecting with the desired audience. It’s not a strongly critical message, and the words are clearly placed within the pictured teen’s mouth (so the ad represents their perspective, as it were), but nonetheless there’s the danger that this message will overshadow the rest of the site, which would be a shame. On the other hand it has a bit of sass, which may well appeal to the teens they’re hoping will use the site. So, who knows?
Regardless of what you think of that image, it’s worth noting that throughout the website is a welcome message of respect for those who differ in their religious beliefs, including a timely article suggesting teens not call their religious discussion partners “idiots”, complete with YouTube clips and links to Twitter.
Not every design decision is a win – highlighting selected parts of an article’s text with both bold and larger font distracts from the reading experience, for instance – but, in general, this is a welcome resource for a vital constituency who rarely receive much attention from the Humanist movement. As a portent of where the movement is headed Kids Without God is extremely promising: it offers an intelligent, useful, and surprisingly well-designed set of resources for kids growing up godless, and their parents.