Reality TV's Next Star: Voluntourism

Could you “Imagine This!”?

Volunteer travel may soon have the attention of national television networks. Imagine This! is a new television show that will take their team of volunteers to different parts of the world to complete real sustainability projects to deserving communities. With the help of those who join the website, Imagine This! hopes to gain enough interest for the show to eventually be on major networks. They have already been named to Entertainment Weekly’s “Must List”. The website is a social network engine where members can read blogs, watch episodes of the show, submit ideas for projects, or enter to win the chance to participate in a project. Each project submitted must have three components to it; a challenge, a solution, and a celebration. The challenge has to be something that the community cannot fix by themselves. The solution must be easy to figure out regardless of how much planning it will take and have long lasting effects. The only other requirement is that it be achievable in one week for the team to complete. Last is the celebration when the Imagine This! team and the community celebrate the completion of the project!

The trailer episode features school children in an Andean village of Peru. The main issue was that the children had to walk over twenty miles to school each day, resulting in a seven hour commute. The solution that the Imagine This! team came up with was to convert a bus to bio-diesel that would transport the children to and from school, as well as building a playground for the kids to play on. When the project was completed, the team got to celebrate and see the children’s faces as they saw their new playground and transportation. The great part about the show is that the viewer is first given the background information about the project, allowing those from outside to view the devastation that is at hand. Being able to watch the transformation is equally amazing. Seeing the work that is done to help complete strangers is very uplifting.

One of the projects in an upcoming episode that was particularly interesting was about an Eastern European village where the sun does not come out for months at a time. Many of the residents suffer from seasonal affective disorder because of this. The team will be airlifting a mirror to be placed on the nearest mountain that will be hooked up to a computer that will constantly move the mirror to catch the rays of the sun. The rays will then be directed back into the village to provide sunlight for at least a few hours during the day. This will hopefully alleviate many of the symptoms associated with the disorder. Every episode features a different challenge with a creative solution.

Is this what we need to see on tv? Would you consider this a reality television of substance that cuts through the clutter of reality shows we have on tv now?

Post By Nicole Rutledge

1 Comment

  1. I think the world is ready for television content that is meaningful and inspiring. Being a former TV producer myself, I am familiar with the challenges one faces when trying to enterain an audience while still maintaining the integrity of a concept.

    Two years ago I made the decision to leave television and dedicate my life to my adventure travel company, PLAY it Foward Adventures. All of our adventures combine active outdoor adventures abroad with volunteerism. We believe in giving back to the locals in the places we play, and similar to the concept of this reality show you're proposing, all trips include a tangible service project that a.) improves quality of life, b.) can be completed in a short amount of time, typically 2-4 days, and c.) makes a lasting impression on the community we're visiting.

    You have PLAY it Forward's vote to proceed with a television show like this. We would love to support, participate or be featured in a show like this.

    I give credit to the creative team that concepted this show idea. If you can keep the integrity of the exchange that happens on adventures like this, I think you'll have a hit on your hands. The trailor you've posted captures the true essence. Congrats!

    Jodi Nelson
    PLAY it Forward Adventures

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