Social Media and Social Action: A Conversation with Petra Nemcova

Supermodel Petra Nemcova visited the Annenberg School for Communication December 1 to talk about the genesis of the Happy Hearts Fund, which rebuilds safe-resilient schools in areas impacted by natural disasters.

In 2004, Nemcova was vacationing in Thailand when the Asian Ocean Tsunami struck, killing nearly 300,000 people and causing her life threatening injuries. Rather than crushing her spirit, the experience led her to dedicate her life to helping children.

Through the many contacts she had met through her career, Nemcova is able to bring people to the cause, but social media has extended the ability of the organization to reach the hearts of people who might otherwise never come into her circle. One example of that is the “Happy Hearts Challenge, where individuals pose for a picture of themselves forming a heart symbol with their hands, posting it on social media and challenging friends to do the same. “It’s like the ice bucket challenge without the ice,” Nemcova said. She posed for Happy Hearts Challenge photos with Penn students and faculty before and after her talk. (Photos here.)

This event was organized through the Annenberg School by communication major Sophie Lasry and the discussion was moderated by Professor Amy Jordan.

NOTE:  Opinion piece in TheHill.com by Amy Jordan about the Happy Hearts Fund.