Get ready to save the environment on Earth Day, thanks to Sydney To The Max stars Ava Kolker and Christian J. Simon! That’s right, J-14 recently caught up with the two talented teens and talked all things conservation. Both Disney Channel stars shared their best tips for doing your part at home to the protect the environment during the current coronavirus pandemic and even dished their recent trip to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, where they learned all about conserving wildlife.
For those who don’t know, Ava and Christian partnered with Disney Channel and National Geographic to film some pretty epic videos all about the importance of protecting wildlife. Get this, you guys, the actors even encountered elephants, tigers and gorillas on their trip to the theme park. But that’s not all! Their show, Sydney To The Max, even filmed a special environmental-themed episode, which will air on Wednesday, April 22 at 10:45 P.M. EST. Be sure to tune into Disney Channel and the DisneyNOW app for Earth Day content featuring these two stars.
J-14: You teamed up with Disney Channel to teach viewers about Earth Day — Can you tell us what viewers can expect to see?
Ava Kolker: You should expect a little tour around Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, and you’re going to learn a bunch of new ways to help out animals. There are so many different ways to help animals that you don’t even know yet. I learned so much and you’re going to learn a lot about the animals and about their habitats and about their families and how they live and their lives. It’s really, really a beautiful and amazing experience. And I cannot wait for you guys to see it.
Christian J. Simon: I had a spectacular experience. First of all, this is the first time Disney national geographic teamed up. So, to be a part of it, it was pretty special. I loved that I learned so much about animals and how we can protect and save wildlife. So, I’m so excited and happy for everyone at home to see it.
J-14: You filmed the special at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, what was that like?
Ava: It was incredible. It was so much fun. We met so many animals and to just be, first of all, in Disney World was amazing, but to learn so much about animals and how we can preserve their habitats and help them and really make a difference was just such an amazing experience. I’ll never forget it.
Christian: It was amazing. You know, just to be in Disney World is awesome and I’ve always loved to go in there as a kid and just going there and knowing that I’m teaming up with National Geographic was awesome and it was amazing. It was an amazing experience.
J-14: Which animal was your favorite to learn about?
Ava: That is one of the hardest questions! I really liked the okapi. The okapi was pretty amazing. Honestly, I didn’t even know they existed, and they look like a zebra, but they’re not related to the zebra. They’re related to the giraffe, which I thought was super cool. I also really liked learning about the porcupine. It’s a rumor that they can shoot their spikes. That’s fake. That’s not true. They can’t do that. I thought that was fascinating.
Christian: We were right there by the animals and my favorite animal experience would have to be the gorillas. They are so fun to watch and they’re so human-like. For example, I remember two gorillas that were siblings and they were chasing each other around, which was hilarious because it’s similar to what humans, siblings do all the time.
J-14: What were some of the things you learned about the importance of conserving wildlife?
Ava: People are so afraid of species when they shouldn’t be. They should be wanting to help them, and that’s really what this trip did. It totally changed my perspective on a lot of these animals and I’m now less scared of them and wanting to help them more. I learned that you can help wildlife matter where you are in the world by limiting your use in plastic, by recycling, by buying only sustainable products, by planting trees and bushes and native flowers in your backyard.
Christian: I learned that you can take your time, by volunteering for an organization, and if you don’t have time, you can make a monetary donation. Disney has an awesome organization that helps protect wildlife and their habitats called the Disney Conservation Fund.
J-14: What’s the biggest thing that kids can do to help the environment, even while they’re stuck at home?
Ava: If you’re ordering groceries online, you can always check and make sure there’s sustainable products, which is amazing. We learned that what a sustainable product means is that a lot of products, there’s parts of it that were either mined in the gorilla habitat or the elephant habitat and that’s considered habitat destruction, which affects the animals life and it could possibly even decrease the population. So, it’s really important that you make sure that you’re buying only sustainable products.
Christian: There are so many amazing things that kids can do locally that can make an impact globally. I think the biggest thing kids can do is get involved. That’s a big thing. Also, you can reduce, reuse and recycle. Since we are living our quarantine life right now, kids can do a lot of things around the house to help the environment. For example, taking shorter showers, turning things off when not in use and properly disposing of trash and recyclables.
J-14: Why do you think it’s important for the younger generation to learn about animal and environmental conservation?
Ava: I think that we could change the world and so many animals are endangered, and I think that we can really make a difference if we figure out how, and that’s what this trip was. We all got educated and learned how to help these animals in so many different ways. I think we can make a huge worldwide difference together.
Christian: I think it’s very important to learn at a young age because it will go with you the rest of your life. I think you can make an impact while you’re young too and you can do so many things locally, that can make an impact globally.
J-14: Sydney To The Max recently aired its environmental-themed episode, can you tell us a little bit about that?
Ava: [As a cast] we realized that we can make a difference and we realize that why aren’t we making a difference? We decided to take a stand to help these animals and to help our Earth. It’s a really, really cool episode and we actually discover quite a couple of ways to make that difference. We completely cut out plastic, which is almost impossible to do. We did a whole strike of not using plastics in the school cafeteria and it actually worked, which is really cool. We planted a garden in the episode. We all found different ways to help our environment, and hopefully [viewers] can learn different ways and help the environment.
Christian: The episode is called “Going the Green Mile” and it’s about saving the planet. In the present day, the girls a staged a protest to convince the cafeteria to go green. In the 90s, Leo and Young Max fight to keep their schools for getting rid of the junk food in the vending machine. That was so much fun, I had so much fun shooting that episode.
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