78% of parents believe that any child can do well in school if he or she tries hard enough. But in reality, many children are already trying as hard as they can. One in five children in the U.S. struggles with learning and attention issues in areas such as reading, math, writing, focus and organization, and many of them may never get the diagnosis and support they need to thrive. Today, Understood.org, in partnership with the Ad Council, has launched a new national public service advertising (PSA) campaign which shines a light on what learning and attention issues can look like from both an adult and child perspective.
Created pro bono by Publicis North America, the new campaign helps kick off October’s Learning Disabilities Awareness month, and is also timed to coincide with a time of the year when signs of learning and attention issues often start to become noticeable in school-aged children. As students and teachers settle into the school year and the real work begins, it’s not uncommon for kids who are struggling to say to their parents, “My teacher doesn’t like me,” “My homework doesn’t make any sense,” or “I don’t want to go to school.”
According to a new survey conducted by the Ad Council and Understood, 7 out of 10 parents aren’t aware that a child not wanting to do his or her homework could be a sign of these kinds of issues. Sometimes parents mistakenly think their children are just being lazy and should try harder, or that it’s a phase their children will outgrow. But in some cases, such as when a child repeatedly avoids or delays doing their homework, it could be an unidentified learning or attention issue.
“We want parents to know that learning and attention issues are real, brain-based issues. They are not the result of where or how a child grows up, and they are not a reflection of the child’s intelligence. With proper identification and support, these kids can thrive academically, socially and emotionally,” said Kevin Hager, managing director of Understood.org. “Identifying learning and attention issues early and getting help through Understood.org can make a real difference in ensuring that teachers and parents get kids the support they need.”
The stigma associated with a diagnosis is one barrier that can keep parents from seeking the help their children may need. Nearly half of parents surveyed agree that most parents wouldn’t want others to know if their child had these challenges. To help counter this stigma, Understood.org and the Ad Council are also kicking off a social media campaign using the hashtag #BeUnderstood. The campaign invites the general public to use #BeUnderstood on social media to share personal stories of their experience with learning and attention issues, and offer messages of encouragement and hope to kids and parents who are struggling. This social movement will help raise awareness of the prevalence of learning and attention issues, and how parents, teachers, family, and friends can support children who are struggling.
According to a new survey conducted by the Ad Council and Understood, 7 out of 10 parents aren’t aware that a child not wanting to do his or her homework could be a sign of learning or attention issues.
The campaign includes television, radio, print, outdoor and digital PSAs directed by Emmy®-winning director Lauren Greenfield (The Queen of Versailles, the Always “Like a Girl” campaign). The emotional new ads bring to life the “two sides” of the learning and attention issues story by depicting both the parent and child perspective and encouraging parents that “when you can see it from their side, you can be on their side.” All materials were developed in partnership with the Ad Council and created pro bono by Publicis North America.
The PSAs direct parents to Understood.org, a comprehensive free online resource that offers parents interactive tools, daily access to experts and a supportive community of fellow parents. Over 1.5 million people have visited Understood.org in the last month.
“This work truly humanizes and personalizes the challenges faced by both parents and children when it comes to learning and attention issues,” said Lisa Sherman, President and CEO of the Ad Council. “Through this powerful creative, we hope to help more parents discover the resources available at Understood.org for their child’s success both in and out of the classroom.”
Susan Gianinno, Chairman, North America, Publicis Worldwide, commented, “Publicis is very proud to tackle the misunderstanding still associated with learning and attention issues, and through smart, thoughtful communications, truly effect change. We have had the privilege of working on Ad Council campaigns for decades and are delighted to support Understood.org, a brilliant and truly helpful resource.”
The PSAs will be distributed to media outlets nationwide and will run in time and space completely donated by the media. Launch partners for this campaign include Meredith Publications and Upworthy.com, both of which will debut exclusive new online videos in October to help further the message of the campaign. Meredith Publications is also donating media to support the new creative.
The survey was conducted by Lightspeed GMI on behalf of the Ad Council and Understood in September 2016, surveying 900 parents nationwide.
For more information about Understood and resources for learning and attention issues, visit Understood.org. To share your message of encouragement about your experience with learning and attention issues, use hashtag #BeUnderstood on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.