TACOMA, Washington — World Children’s Day was started in 1954. Since then, on November 20 of each year, people around the world come together to celebrate community, promote child welfare and raise awareness about the living conditions and experiences of children around the world. UNICEF employs the help of international organizations, in addition to its own Goodwill Ambassadors, to raise awareness in the week leading up to the event. Goodwill Ambassadors are celebrities with a common goal: improving the lives of children around the world. After showing dedication to the cause throughout their lives, celebrities are invited to become UNICEF Ambassadors. Some big names from World Children’s Day 2020 include David Beckham, Orlando Bloom, Ishmael Beah, Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Liam Payne.
In the week leading up to November 20, each celebrity took a day to speak to individuals around the world on various social justice and climate issues. The children they spoke to ranged from 11 to 18 years old, hailing from places such as Barbados, Tanzania and South Sudan, to name a few.
To kick off the week of inspiring conversations that would culminate in World Children’s Day 2020, David Beckham spoke with 18-year-old Sebabatso about her work with the Techno Program, a group dedicated to encouraging young girls to pursue careers in STEM. Beckham recounted the story of how he became involved in UNICEF after a trip to a women’s center in Thailand with Manchester United. They discussed in detail the lack of women in STEM fields and the way that the industry is so often seen as a male-dominated field.
Orlando Bloom talked to 11-year-old Maria, the youngest award-winning filmmaker in Barbados, who also runs a YouTube channel called Little Thoughts on Big Matters. Maria talked about sustainability efforts on both small and large scales. She found it deeply concerning that some people simply throw their trash and recycling on the ground with no concern for how that affects the world around them.
Ishmael Beah met with 15-year-old Lunjok, who writes poems about the need to save the environment, and how humans have polluted the Earth. She read two of her poems, one about her relationship with her mother and one about the world coming together to save the environment. Lunjok then left Beah with the message that everyone should “keep spreading peace, love and unity.”
Priyanka Chopra Jonas
Priyanka Chopra Jonas met with 16-year-old Aditya who has been working to eliminate single-use plastics in India. Beginning his activism, Aditya met with the general managers of certain public places and explained the harms of plastic consumption and waste accumulation. He then began an initiative to eliminate 50,000 plastic straws from public places and continued to build from there. Additionally, Aditya has lobbied with and educated the communities around him on the detrimental effects of single-use plastics.
Liam Payne spoke with 13-year-old Areej on gender-based oppression experienced by young girls in Yemen. In response, she spoke about the challenges of accessing education and the prevalence of child brides in her country. Areej hopes that in the future, all children will have equal access to education and the ability to choose their own path.
A Future in The Pandemic
During their conversations for World Children’s Day 2020, the Ambassadors asked each of the children about school and the ways that COVID-19 has impacted their education and their plans. Their responses were similar: COVID-19 has upended their schooling and their activism efforts. The Ambassadors also wanted to know what the children wanted to see from the world in the future. Again, they all responded the same way. A world where everyone cherishes and preserves the environment and where human rights are protected for all people is the dream for these rising youths.
– Jessica Lyn
Photo: Wikimedia Commons