The videos feature a playful Willie, urging young viewers to learn about conservation and sing along with him, pledging not to waste water. | Photo courtesy EP Water
You know those videos kids love to watch over and over? Now, El Paso Water’s Willie the Water Drop is headed to a screen near you, urging preschoolers to use water wisely at home.
The short videos will feature Willie engaging with April Lopez, Water Conservation Specialist, immersing young viewers in conservation lessons, with plenty of positive reinforcement thrown in for good measure.
“This project was part of an effort to make Willie’s lessons more accessible to everyone,” said Lopez, adding the project was a longtime goal. “With the pandemic, we decided now is the time to provide virtual learning experiences remotely.”
Shows such as Nickelodeon’s popular “Blue’s Clues” and Dora the Explorer” inspired the TecH2O Learning Center team to sample techniques encouraging young viewers to play along.
Ultimately, the TecH2O team hopes the videos catch on with preschoolers, so much so that they can’t wait to watch them over and over.
The videos are similar to the interactive presentations the TecH2O team usually gives at schools and daycare centers around El Paso. The videos will be a great additional educational tool for teachers’ shelves, said Anai Padilla, Water Conservation/TecH2O Manager.
Willie fans may also find additional educational resources and activities on the TecH2O website, including a seek-and-find and Willie’s Conservation Bingo, Padilla said.
“El Paso Water values education and outreach as an important part of our successful conservation program,” said Christina Montoya-Halter, Marketing and Communications Manager. “We are hoping these videos give kids a way to interact with Willie and expose them to our water resources and conservation messages from the comfort of their own home.”
Team members want to showcase Willie in all his water drop glory, reinforcing and ingraining positive water-use habits. The video will feature a playful, talking Willie, urging young viewers to learn about water conservation and sing along with him, pledging not to waste water.
Videos offer lessons on El Paso’s water resources, the monsoon season and adopting healthy habits, such as drinking eight glasses of water daily – all led by Lopez and the utility’s beloved “face” of conservation.
“What I hope we accomplish is that Willie becomes very well-known and that we build lifelong water conservation habits,” Lopez said.
The videos also offer a bonus opportunity to introduce Willie to EPWater’s large workforce, as well as to customers who may not be familiar with the utility’s ice cream-obsessed mascot. Willie received a costume makeover two years ago, resulting in a lighter and more comfortable inflatable costume.
The mascot has come a long way from his early days as “Willie Water Waster,” learning many valuable lessons about conservation along the way.
The pandemic may have temporarily shelved field trips and signature events, but that hasn’t stopped the TecH2O staff from brainstorming new educational outreach methods.
“This time is giving us an opportunity to grow in other ways,” Lopez said. “We are able to focus on bigger projects.”
“I think that’s the most important thing our team gained: how diverse we became in all aspects, in the way we work, the way we rely on each other, the way we accomplish goals.”