Halloween is a holiday that kids throughout the western world look forward to every autumn. Like many 13 year-olds, I love trick or treating with friends and collecting candy. But this year, like many before, I will also be raising funds for children in Africa through the Trick or Treat Program of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), an organization founded in 1946 to provide emergency food and healthcare to kids in countries that had been hurt in World War II.
Being a UNICEF Children’s Ambassador, the Trick or Treat program means a lot to me. It first started in Philadelphia almost sixty years ago, and to date, young people in Canada alone have raised almost $100 million through the program. Just imagine how much of a difference this has made in the lives of kids around the world.
Children in underdeveloped countries are in dire need of help. The United Nations states that one in three children will never see the inside of a classroom in their entire lives, and almost 60% of these out-of-school children are girls. At the same time, tens of millions of kids around the world can’t read because they never had a chance to learn. Imagine not being able to email one of your friends, read one of your friend’s messages, or read a website or a book from your favourite author.
Thankfully, young people in Canada will again have the opportunity to make a difference this month and raise millions of dollars for children around the world. Leading up to Halloween, participants can sign people up for pledges after school, which could be $10, $25, $50, or whatever they can give. The kids will then bring their pledge sheets and the money they’ve raised back to school by October 31st.
The monies go directly to UNICEF, the building of schools and the provision of education to children in the African countries of Rwanda and Malawi, which I visited two years ago, and where rates of child poverty are among the highest in the world.
The program has a great website at www.trickortreatforunicef.ca. When you log on, you can find out more information about UNICEF and the program. There’s also a games page and in the media room, a video message from Nelson Mandela, the former President of South African who I had the pleasure of meeting in June 2009 in Johannesburg.
The former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, once said: “Young people should be at the forefront of global change and innovation. Empowered, they can be key agents for development and peace. Let us ensure that all young people have every opportunity to participate fully in the lives of their societies.”
Each of us has this opportunity, and I am absolutely positive that through the UNICEF Trick or Treat program, we will make the best of it. Here is our chance to help children in central Africa and really make a difference for those who have so little. What is collecting candy and pledges for us means building a school for them.
“Together we CAN make a difference”