Modern day challenges demand 21st Century solutions from a new generation of problem solvers.
This is the thinking behind UNICEF Kid Power — a growing movement that's been activating kids' inner heroes since 2014, giving them and their families the power to help end global malnutrition and save lives one step at a time.
Today, as we kick off UNICEF Kid Power Month, we celebrate young people across the country who've already joined forces to make tangible change in the world around them. In honor of their efforts, we call upon all kids and families to get active and save lives and help empower the next generation of global citizens working to support UNICEF's lifesaving mission.
When kids join the UNICEF Kid Power team, every bit of their physical activity unlocks funding from partners that UNICEF uses to deliver lifesaving nutrition to children in need. As kids run, dance, climb stairs or play catch, their movements are measured by the Kid Power Band — the world's first "wearable-for-good" — or by the free Kid Power app. The more kids move, the more lives they save, the more certain they become that they can drive lasting social impact in the world around them.
"There are children around the world who only eat one meal every two days," says Alim, one of the hundreds of thousands of elementary school students who have joined the program since it began in 2014. "That makes me sad. So I like to help."
To date, participants from across the U.S. and beyond have collectively unlocked more than 10 million packets of lifesaving Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) — enough "miracle food" to treat and save the lives of over 70,000 severely malnourished children. Children like Joemar from the Philippines, and Kumba from Mauritania. Children like Bhagwati of Pakistan.
Through the UNICEF Kid Power school program, Alim and students like him go on teacher-lead "missions" to learn about the different cultures and countries where UNICEF — and they — are helping children.
The UNICEF Kid Power classroom kits provide educators with everything they need to help their students develop 21st century skills. Team members receive individual UNICEF Kid Power Bands. The Bands are linked through a Wi-Fi enabled tablet, and synched weekly to record activity levels.
The program also offers educators a host of tools and resources, which integrate a global curriculum with experiences that give kids’ actions real-life impact. Particularly popular this spring is the new Kid Power Ups series — short, interactive videos that teachers can play during activity breaks to get pupils out of their seats and moving. Great for use as "brain breaks," which research has shown to improve students' focus and performance, UNICEF Kid Power Ups, give kids another way to unlock therapeutic food packets for malnourished children.
Linking action to meaningful, real-world impact is a powerful mechanism of engagement for educators, parents and teachers say. Through the UNICEF Kid Power school program, students become more aware of the world around them and increasingly see themselves as global citizens who can make a difference within the world communitiy. They develop empathy and grit — qualities that are critical to their social and emotional development.
"My daughter LOVES her UNICEF Kid Power Band," says Jessica Gyarfas Gallagher. "She is so excited to help other kids. The set-up keeps her engaged, and she gets so happy when she unlocks a new RUTF packet."
Laurie Sasson, a teacher at Eagle Point Elementary School in Albany, N.Y., is a big fan of the program. "Some of my refugee students were saved by RUTF," Sasson reports. Two members of her team Rachel and Innocent are originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where they saw UNICEF nutrition programs in action. "When we came to this country, people helped us," the students recently told UNICEF USA. "Now we have a chance to help other people. It's like what we say in Africa: 'If you save one life, you save the whole world.'"
UNICEF Kid Power also gets young people thinking about how to solve problems in their own communities. On Earth Day last year, a team from outside Altanta planted a community vegetable garden. Another group of students from Kannapolis, N.C., organized a walk-a-thon to help kids suffering from diabetes. High schoolers in Encino, Calif., hosted a neighborhood trash pick-up.
Grade schoolers from Mesquite Elementary in Mesquite, Texas, were brimming with ideas after their own successful UNICEF Kid Power run. Third grader Jadah aspires to opening a local food pantry some day. His classmate Tamia resolved to find ways to help the elderly. When Jadah and Tamia's teacher asked the class to distill their learnings from the experience, her students responded as one: "I am a person who loves to save lives, and even if I don't know you I will care for you no matter what."
For May — UNICEF Kid Power month — UNICEF USA is urging parents, teachers, supporters and friends to help keep the momentum going.
Donate today so children who desperately need your help will get the lifesaving nutrition they need and more students like Alim, Rachel, Innocent, Tamia and Jadah can discover they have what it takes to solve the world’s problems.
Learn more about how you can help get a whole classroom full of students started with the UNICEF Kid Power program today!
Help fund a classroom today!
Anyone can download the free UNICEF Kid Power App for iPhone or Android, or shop for a UNICEF Kid Power Band online.