UNICEF Kid Power program in US helps kids get fit and save lives
Friday March 27, 2015 at 3:45pm
UNICEF in the US has launched a new program, UNICEF Kid Power, using wearable technology to encourage US school children to become more active and, at the same time, save the lives of fellow school children in the developing world. Kicking off in New York, Boston and Dallas this month, the initiative will leverage the power of technology together with movement-based curriculum and activities to promote fitness among American students. Kid Power will simultaneously help UNICEF – the world’s largest purchaser and distributor of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food – to provide lifesaving nutrition to severely malnourished children around the world. Beginning in March, some 10,000 participating elementary school students will monitor their physical activity with UNICEF Kid Power fitness bands which display the number of steps taken and number of points earned. Program supporters will convert students’ points into monetary donations toward the purchase of therapeutic food. A full day of physical activity – 12,000 steps – will translate into five Kid Power Points. Every five Kid Power Points earned will convert to one packet of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food, a specially-designed protein and vitamin-rich peanut paste that is used to save the lives of children with severe acute malnutrition, a deadly condition if left untreated. The UNICEF Kid Power program also includes in-classroom curriculum and educational activities focused on childhood malnutrition. UNICEF Kid Power is sponsored by the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF and supported by the mayors of New York, Boston and Dallas plus local sports teams and players including the Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks. Over the course of the 30-day program, sports teams will encourage kids to stay active by cheering them on with classroom visits, recognizing the young philanthropists at home games and more. said U.S. Fund for UNICEF President and CEO Caryl M. Stern says: “Malnutrition is responsible for nearly half of all deaths of children under the age of five globally. I can’t think of a better motivator for kids to get active than the fact that they’re helping save lives.” The three-city launch follows a successful four-week pilot program last October in Sacramento, where nearly 900 students, teachers and teaching assistants at six schools took part. According to an independent assessment, school kids engaged in the program were 55% more active than those not participating in the initiative. UNICEF Kid Power participants in Sacramento also earned enough therapeutic food packets for 473 severely malnourished children to complete a full course of treatment. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF aims to launch UNICEF Kid Power in additional cities in the Fall of 2015 and into 2016. In the tradition established by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar with the 1971 Concert for Bangladesh, the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF continues to fund innovative programs that support the rights of children worldwide.