SEATTLE, Washington — Professional athletes can have a huge impact on kids who are growing up. Kids often marvel at the championships won or great plays they witness. For some young people, athletes turn into role models that kids look up to; especially those who give back to the community. Let’s examine pro athletes’ work with UNICEF and the good that has been done for impoverished children around the world.
Serena Williams started her relationship with UNICEF in 2006 focusing on a global health campaign. As part of this effort, Williams and other volunteers traveled to Africa to vaccinate children against childhood diseases. She also helped distribute and demonstrate how to use mosquito bed nets that are used to help prevent malaria. She didn’t officially become a global ambassador for UNICEF until 2011. Since then, Williams has been supporting Schools for Africa which aims to provide quality education to vulnerable and impoverished children throughout Africa. Since its start in 2004 Schools for Africa has provided educational opportunities to millions of children in Africa in more than 11 countries.
Lionel Messi became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 2010 but has been working with UNICEF since 2007. He also worked with the organization even after his role as ambassador ended. In 2007 he participated in a telethon in Argentina which raised over $1 million dollars for UNICEF projects in his native country of Argentina. He has joined UNICEF in promoting many campaigns that the organization runs. Such campaigns include those targeting AIDS awareness and treatment. In addition, he also participated in campaigns that aim to bring sports and educational access to kids and relief for the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
David Beckham became a UNICEF goodwill global ambassador in 2005 and in 2015 celebrated his 10 year anniversary with UNICEF by starting 7: The David Beckham UNICEF Fund. The fund aims to help children, especially young girls overcome obstacles like missing out on education, child marriage and bullying. Notably, in 2005 after becoming a goodwill ambassador, Beckham launched a global fundraiser for children affected by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
Sergio Ramos started working with UNICEF in 2007 and in 2014 became an ambassador for the UNICEF Spanish Committee. He has made visits to Senegal, Cuba and Peru on behalf of UNICEF. Ramos has been particularly interested in helping children in need. In 2019 he raised more than $1 million for measles vaccinations for children in need. In an Instagram post, Ramos said The Gates Foundation would donate one dollar for measles vaccines on behalf of UNICEF in exchange for each like. Ramos’ post garnered over 1.7 million likes which was enough for UNICEF to purchase more than 14 million measles vaccines.
Overall, UNICEF has partnered with athletes around the world to try to raise awareness and aid for children in need. With the large platforms that athletes have, some have taken it upon themselves to bring awareness to critical issues. These pro athletes’ work with UNICEF shows that celebrities can use their platforms for a good cause.
– Zachary Laird