Youngsters joined online by celebrities to mark World Children’s Day

Adolescent pupils and members of the school club of Morulem Girls Primary school in Abim District, Karamoja sub-region,take time to chat under a tree during lunch break. UNICEF with funding from Irish Aid, is implementing 5 year programme of improving quality of education and retention of girls in schools in Karamoja region.

Children and young people from around the world are joining some of UNICEF’s most recognisable Goodwill Ambassadors – David Beckham and Orlando Bloom for starters – in virtual conversations in celebration of World Children’s Day. 

In the lead-up this week to World Children’s Day on November 20 – a day of action for children, by children – these high-profile supporters will share their conversations with youngsters about issues that matter to them, whether it’s the COVID pandemic, education, the environment or just how they would plan for a better future.

One of those involved in the initiative is teenage actress Millie Bobby Brown, who was appointed as a Goodwill Ambassador in 2016. “2020 has been challenging, so this World Children’s Day it’s more important than ever for young people to speak out on the issues that affect them,” she said. “All around the world, children and young people are coming up with creative solutions to today’s problems, including climate change and remote learning during the pandemic. I’m excited to join other UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors to use our voices to help lift up theirs.”

‘It’s more important than ever for young people to speak out’

`Now in its fourth year, World Children’s Day is about raising awareness and funds for the millions of children that are denied their right to adequate health care, nutrition, education and protection. The COVID pandemic has threatened all of the hard-won gains to protect and advance children’s rights, not least with the number of children living in multidimensional poverty having soared by 15 per cent to approximately 1.2 billion worldwide.

UNICEF adds that at least 24 million children risk dropping out of school, and thousands of children could die every day if the pandemic continues to weaken health systems and disrupt routine services. Restricted movement and school closures have also cut children off from teachers, friends and communities leaving them at increased risk of violence, abuse and exploitation.

The series of online ‘chats’ runs from 13-20 November, and includes:

  • Actor Orlando Bloom speaking with 11-year-old Maria about how she is taking action to protect the environment in her home country, Barbados
  • Author Ishmael Beah speaking with 14-year-old Lunjok about advocating with other children for a clean environment in her home country, South Sudan
  • Actor Priyanka Chopra Jonas chatting with 16-year-old Aditya from India about his campaign against single-use plastics and his goal of eliminating 50,000 plastic drinking straws in his country.

UNICEF National Ambassadors and Supporters Halima Aden, Gemma Chan, Liam Payne and Alejandro Sanz will also participate in conversations with children and young people from Argentina, Bolivia, Ecuador, Montenegro, Spain, the United Kingdom and Yemen.

‘Standing with children and young people in their hour of need’

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director for UNICEF, said: “This year has been life-altering for an entire generation of children and young people. But we can draw hope and inspiration from all of the progress we are making to respond to COVID-19 and reimagine stronger systems for the future. From distance learning through technology, to building stronger community-based health, nutrition, and water and sanitation systems, to the equitable delivery of an eventual COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX facility, we have many reasons to look to 2021 with a renewed sense of optimism. On this World Children’s Day, we call on the global community to help us keep this hope alive by standing with children and young people in their hour of need.”

Click here for more about World Children’s Day, including key links for young people, parents, teachers, governments and business.

The conversations will be shared on Instagram and are also available to download here.

Author: Simon Weedy

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