LONDON — On May 21, J.J. Abrams, director of the upcoming “Star Wars: Episode VII,” sent this video from Abu Dhabi, announcing that Disney, Lucasfilm and Bad Robot are partnering with UNICEF in order to launch Star Wars: Force for Change. This unique campaign will give Star Wars fans a chance to win the prize of a lifetime. One winner and one guest will be transported to the production’s London location, where they will stay for free, meet the cast and make cameo appearances in the seventh film.
Disney has donated $1 million to launch the partnered campaign. All the money raised by Star Wars: Force for Change will go directly to UNICEF’s Innovation team, a combination of 135 offices and 14 labs around the world. The Innovation team is responsible for developing technology solutions that aid children in parts of the developing world.
The UNICEF Innovation Labs have designed some crucial pieces of aid technology. Included among these is the MobiStation, a “School-in-a-Box” already used in Burundi and Uganda. The MobiStation is a portable system powered by solar energy that contains a laptop, scanner, projector and speakers. The contents of the device were hand-picked by some of the most well-respected teachers in each country and cover a full curriculum in English, social studies, math and science.
The MobiStation also provides an answer to several long-standing problems in rural school systems, including textbook deficiency and teacher absenteeism. Even better, because the station is solar-powered, it is reliable in places that cannot otherwise access electricity.
UNICEF’s Innovation Labs have also developed a cellphone app called RapidFTR, or Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification. The app can be used by children to find their families again during emergency situations. RapidFTR has already been put through its paces in the Philippines, where in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, families were able to locate one another using the new program.
A third new technology, debuted in rural Zambia, is a text messaging system that allows new mothers to find out sooner than ever whether or not their children will be HIV-positive. Early diagnosis is crucial to saving the lives of HIV-positive children, 75 percent of whom will die before they turn 3 years old if they don’t receive the proper drugs.
In order to enter the Star Wars: Force for Change contest and support the UNICEF Innovation Labs, enter online or by mail. Participants are encouraged to enter multiple times. Donors may make multiple entries into the contest, once for every $10 given. In addition to their charitable contribution, participants will also receive limited edition rewards depending on how much they donate, including:
- Thank-you card from Abrams ($40)
- Star Wars: Force for Change t-shirt ($100)
- Concept art from Episode VII ($500)
- Signed copy of the Episode VII script and replica lightsaber hilt ($10,000)
- Advance private screening of the new film with up to 20 guests ($50,000)
The contest is open until July 18, and the grand prize winner will be announced July 31.
For long-time Star Wars fans, the Star Wars: Force for Change campaign represents a unique opportunity to take part in film history. At the same time, donors can give back and provide UNICEF Innovation Labs with the funding it needs to better the lives of children in as many as 190 different countries. With many of the higher-priced rewards already claimed, the campaign promises to be a successful one, and the partnership between UNICEF and Star Wars, a landmark moment.