From sewer tours in France to “ghetto tours” in New York, there’s no shortage of strange excursions out there. An amusement park in Mexico, however, may have the most unusual outing yet: Parque EcoAlberto is bringing in tourist dollars – and teaching Mexican youth a lesson – by simulating the experience of fleeing across the U.S.-Mexico border.
According to PBS, the nighttime-only attraction aims to dissuade immigration by teaching Mexican citizens that attempting to cross the border is no walk in the park. For three hours, events unfold as realistically as possible, with masked guides shouting for participants to “get Moving” and a fake border patrol chasing them with flashlights and dogs.
The park, which also has hot springs and offers ziplining, is about 800 miles from the real U.S.-Mexico border in part of the indigenous HñaHñu community. According to the news outlet, the community has lost about 80 percent of its population to the U.S., mainly to Arizona and Nevada.
“We try to help people so that they won’t leave,” a park employee who acts as a “coyote,” or person paid to smuggle people across the border, tells PBS. “It’s time to create some employment, to work with our own and regenerate everything, or at least what we can, even though it might be slow going.”
About 300 million people play social games on Facebook per month. Now imagine if even a fraction of their time was spent playing games that could trigger funding for positive causes.
That’s the concept behind “Half the Sky Movement: The Game,” a new Facebook game that engages players in a series of stories and adventures related to the challenges facing women and girls worldwide. The journey starts in India, then travels through Kenya, Vietnam and Afghanistan – destinations also featured in the “Half the Sky” book and PBS documentary from New York Times reporters Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.
Throughout the game, players have the chance to “unlock” funding for these non-profits from the game’s sponsors, which include the Ford Foundation and Zynga.org. For instance, if a player collects books for a young girl in the virtual world, that will activate a real-life donation to non-profit partner Room to Read by the Pearson Foundation. Words With Friends sure doesn’t offer that kind of incentive.
“If we’re able to inspire a portion of this group of players to spend 15 or 30 minutes of their time with this game, the ripple effect of players’ actions will result in significant and much-needed funding for this critical cause,” say Asi Burak and Michelle Byrd, co-presidents of Games for Change, a non-profit that seeks to create social impact through digital games.
“Half the Sky Movement: The Game” launches on Facebook on March 4.