What do Jackie Chan, David Beckham, Whoopi Goldberg, and Ricky Martin all have in common? Besides the fact that they are all famous, these celebrities put their star power to work as Goodwill Ambassadors for UNICEF, the United Nation’s Children’s Fund. As Goodwill Ambassadors, Chan, Beckham, Goldberg, and Martin join a host of other stars who help shed light on the plight of poor and otherwise needy children across the globe.
Their celebrity status gives them the platform to serve as visible advocates for these children and for UNICEF, and that attention often translates into practical help for some of the world’s most vulnerable populations: Additional visibility brought on by the celebrity spotlight means greater awareness of the needs of these children, and awareness means both donations to fund UNICEF projects, and more political pressure on governments to support programs that work to address poverty, education, and the health needs of children around the world.
According to UNICEF, the organization “was the first of many ‘causes’ to enlist the help of celebrities. Danny Kaye pioneered the role of Ambassador-at-Large in 1954; it was taken on by Audrey Hepburn and others, building up into the current distinguished roster of international, regional and national goodwill ambassadors.”
Goodwill Ambassadors also make regular visits to different countries to witness UNICEF’s work in action. David Beckham visited Thailand in 2001 to meet with children who were previously victims of human trafficking. Jackie Chan traveled to Timor-Leste to meet with young people in rival gangs to discuss ways that martial arts could actually be used to facilitate better relations between groups. And Ricky Martin traveled to Thailand in 2005 to visit areas stricken by the 2004 tsunami. Other UNICEF ambassadors include actors Danny Glover and Orlando Bloom, and actress Mia Farrow.
– Délice Williams