UNICEF Australia

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30 August 2021 – UNICEF Australia has opened applications for young people aged 15 – 24 years old to represent their peers, as part of its 2022 Young Ambassador program.

Each year UNICEF Australia (UA) runs a 12-month program for aspiring young leaders, to empower them to advocate on issues they are passionate about, to introduce them to public policy design, and provide the opportunity to meet with key decision makers in government and other stakeholder groups.UA Child & Youth Engagement Manager, Angus Lonergan, said the program is a fantastic learning opportunity for young people interested in public policy and making positive change in their communities.“For young people, it can be very frustrating to be limited to sharing their ideas and views on social media and among their peers or at school. This program exposes the young ambassadors to advocacy pathways through official channels that can drive real change.“One of the most important aspects of the program is the way it enables a variety of youth voices to be heard. Beyond their geographic location of states, cities, regional and remote areas, we’re interested to hear from young people who are diverse in culture and language, gender, and in representing First Nations people and the LGBTQI community,” he said.UNICEF Australia will select Young Ambassadors from each state and territory to advocate for the best interests of children and young people. There are 11 positions available nationwide.Former Young Ambassador, Daphne Fong said, “While experience or a list of achievements may be a bonus, passion, in my opinion, is the most important quality of an UNICEF young ambassador. If you are passionate about child rights and wish to elevate the voices of children and young people in decision making spaces, do not hesitate to apply.”In December, UNICEF celebrates 75 years of safeguarding the best interests of children and young people globally.UNICEF Australia CEO, Tony Stuart said: “We know young people are passionate and have a lot to contribute to solving issues that are affecting them now and into the future.“Young Australians have faced a tremendous amount of challenges over the past couple of years and there has never been a more important time to hear their voices.“This program provides opportunity for the ambassadors to share what they’re hearing from young people in their region and work with us to form policy recommendations that we can present to Government,”he said.Applications are open now and will close on 26 September 2021, with successful applicants to be announced on World Children’s Day, Saturday 20 November 2021.The UNICEF Australia Young Ambassador program is supported by IKEA Australia.To apply, go to www.unicef.org.au

Stars To Front Soccer Aid For UNICEF Appeal Films

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Soccer Aid for UNICEF has today revealed the six heartwarming appeal films that will appear during this year’s match, due to take place at the Etihad Stadium, Manchester on Saturday 4th September and broadcast live on ITV and STV.

Every year Soccer Aid for UNICEF features a collection of short films which showcase UNICEF programmes across the world. These films feature UNICEF UK Ambassadors and supporters who introduce viewers to some of the children and families who are being supported by their donations and show how the money raised from this year’s campaign could continue to help children around the world. This year, many of the films were made by local filmmakers around the world to tell the stories from their own communities.

This year’s appeal films will be fronted by UNICEF UK Ambassador and President, Olivia Colman, Soccer Aid for UNICEF England Captain, Olly Murs, UNICEF UK Ambassador, David Harewood and supporters Alesha Dixon and Martin Compston, and will feature children’s stories from around the world including Yemen, Bangladesh, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Kenya.

ITV viewers will be joined by David Harewood who will outline the history and impact of UNICEF’s work worldwide and how, thanks to donations raised by Soccer Aid, UNICEF has been working to keep children safe from hunger, disease, violence and the chaos of war and disaster.

The UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK) Ambassador and President, Olivia Colman will be introducing viewers to Aseel, a two-year-old boy who is suffering from malnutrition but is on the road to recovery at a UNICEF-supported hospital in Yemen.

Superstar turned children’s author, Alesha Dixon, will be introducing viewers to Badsha, a nine-year-old boy who is living on the streets in Bangladesh, where there are estimated to be around 670,000 street children – a situation which has been made worse by the pandemic.

Returning player and Soccer Aid for UNICEF 2021 England captain, Olly Murs will be re-visiting his experiences in Nairobi, Kenya in 2018 where he met children living and working on a dangerous rubbish dump. Three years later, this film will introduce ITV viewers to some of the children who have been able to reach their potential through the power of sport.

Soccer Aid World XI FC player, Martin Compston, will help share the story of Justin, twelve, and Justine, nine, who were separated from their mother following the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, in May earlier this year, and were helped by UNICEF supported transit centres to reunite with their mum.

Soccer Aid for UNICEF England Captain, Olly Murs, said: “There are so many people out there in the world that need our help. UNICEF have been at the forefront of helping these kids and families. I’ve seen it first hand when I went to Kenya to see UNICEF’s work. I really hope that we can continue to raise, and maybe even beat, the figures raised last year. I’ve really seen first-hand the effects that the money has on the kids and their families who receive the funding, and it is lifechanging. I really hope that, for them, we have a successful year.”

UNICEF UK Ambassador, David Harewood, said: “There are so many children around the world who are worrying about where their next meal comes from, worrying about their education, or just a drink of water. So I think it’s essential that if we can we help these children grow up in as normal environment as possible, and if we can allow them to play and have fun they can still hold onto some vestige of a normal childhood despite the chaos that’s around them, so I think it’s essential that UNICEF is doing the work that they do.

Alesha Dixon said: “It’s unimaginable that children anywhere in the world would have to live on the streets, let alone without their parents or someone to take care of them. And Covid-19 has made this so much worse, they have nowhere safe to go, no ways to make money and no one to turn to when things get dangerous. The work that UNICEF is doing to offer these children shelter, food, healthcare and education is absolutely essential and I’m asking everyone that watches or attends to please donate what you can to help.”

Soccer Aid World XI FC player, Martin Compston, said: “The eruption of Mount Nyiragongo has been devastating for people in the Democratic Republic of Congo and it’s awful to see how families have been torn apart trying to escape the volcano’s path. UNICEF supported transit centres are crucial for reuniting these families, and helping children like Justin and Justine find their mother again after nearly two months of separation. With the Covid-19 pandemic making lives even tougher for children around the world, it has never been more important for families to be together, and for me that’s what Soccer Aid for UNICEF is all about – and why I’m proud to take part!”

Soccer Aid for UNICEF is the biggest celebrity football match in the world and this year there is a bumper week of shows across ITV and STV in the lead up to the match, helping raise as much money as possible to give children the best start in life. In the face of a global pandemic, public donations and fundraising could help UNICEF deliver 2 billion Covid-19 vaccines worldwide, get children back to school, beat malnutrition, and get the healthcare they need today and long after the crisis is over.

Since 2006, when UNICEF UK Ambassador Robbie Williams co-founded the concept, Soccer Aid for UNICEF has raised over £47m to help give children all over the world a childhood full of play. This year, with the support of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) who are matching all donations up to £6.3 million, UNICEF UK is hoping to raise more money than ever for children everywhere, and beat the record breaking £9.3 million that was raised last year.

UNICEF Philippines National Ambassador Anne Curtis’ breastfeeding journey

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Anne Curtis and daughter Dahlia

Actress Anne Curtis’ new role is her best, yet most challenging part yet – that of a first-time mother, determined to give daughter Dahlia the best possible start in life.

For her, this means breastfeeding.

Anne shared her breastfeeding journey with UNICEF in celebration of National Breastfeeding Month as well as the 10th Anniversary of the Breastfeeding TSEK! (Tama, Sapat, Eksklusibo/Correct, Enough and Exclusive) Campaign by the Department of Health (DOH), UNICEF, and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Anne is among the wide range of celebrities, influencers and other partners that UNICEF collaborates with in the Philippines to realize the rights of every adolescent, mother and child to survive, live a healthy life, and thrive.

According to Anne, it was her work as a UNICEF Philippines National Ambassador that strengthened her resolve to breastfeed.

“I would go on field visits with UNICEF, and they would really educate me about the importance of breastmilk for newborn and child’s health. It’s a beautiful journey for you and the child, but aside from that, the benefits of breastmilk are mindblowing!”

Breastmilk can act as the baby’s “first vaccine,” protecting against many common childhood diseases, according to UNICEF Philippines Representative Oyunsaikhan Dendevnorov.

“Initiation of breastfeeding within the first hour of birth, followed by exclusive breastfeeding for six months, the introduction of age-appropriate complementary foods at six months and continued breastfeeding for up to two years or beyond offer a powerful line of defense against all forms of child malnutrition, including wasting and obesity.”

Mothers also benefit, with multiple studies linking breastfeeding with a reduced risk of breast and ovarian cancer – two leading causes of death among women.

“The more I learned about it,” Anne enthuses, “it made me decide I really want to persevere and breastfeed my first baby.”

A Shared Responsibility

Anne admits that there is a learning curve with breastfeeding – one made even more challenging by the pandemic and her isolation from most family and friends.

Thankfully, Anne had the support of her mother and husband Erwan Heussaff, who were able to stay with her in lockdown.

“Because your hands are so full with the newborn, parang lahat ng oras mo, doon nakatutok. Iba yung energy na nawawala sayo pag nagbebreastfeed ka.” (It’s like all your time is focused on that. The energy drained from you during breastfeeding is something else.)

“Maswerte ako sa asawa ko (I’m lucky to have my husband). Because he knew that I was passing nutrients on to my baby, he made sure that what the mother was eating was good for the baby as well.”

According to Anne, the most important help was the emotional support her family gave her when she was breastfeeding.

“At one point mafifeel mo na parang ‘am I failing? Am I not doing it right?’ Pero I think yung support and warmth of the words and telling me na parang ‘kaya mo yan’ – that really helped me.” (At one point, you feel like ‘am I failing? Am I not doing it right? But I think the support and warmth of their words and their saying things like ‘you can do it’ – that really helped me.)

Anne says she was also able to develop a wider support network – even in the time of social distancing.

“I was in Australia when I gave birth. Meron silang binuo na parang ‘mother and child’ group na kasabay mo in your area na nanganak (They formed a ‘mother and child’ group in our area with other women who gave birth around the same time).

So I was able to make a new friend, and we were really speaking to each other. It really helped having someone who could relate with what I was going through as a mother, and ask for advice.”

Support Systems

While Anne was able to get adequate support during the lockdown, UNICEF acknowledges many others might not be so lucky.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic causing disruptions in breastfeeding support services while increasing the risk of food insecurity and malnutrition, prioritizing breastfeeding-friendly environments for mothers and babies is becoming even more urgent,” says Dendevnorov.

In the Philippines, UNICEF works with the DOH, National Nutrition Council, Local Government Units, and relevant agencies to strengthen research, policies, capacity, and evidence-based planning to develop and implement effective and efficient health and nutrition policies and programmes.

UNICEF also uses evidence-informed advocacy to increase Government investment in nutrition services and engages with communities to improve awareness and skills on good nutrition and feeding practices.

Anne staged the “Dahlia Turns 1 Birthday Fundraiser” for UNICEF, which collected PHP 1.8 Million for interventions to improve vulnerable children’s access to health services during their critical first 1,000 days of life.

You’re Not Alone

A year on, Anne says it’s still critical to seek out information to figure out what’s best for Dahlia.

This included getting the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine upon the advice of her doctor. “It’s important is to protect yourself so you can protect your baby.”

From pregnancy to weaning, Anne attests that the breastfeeding journey can be tough. She therefore encourages other mothers to not be ashamed of the changes happening in their bodies.

“Feel free to speak to other mothers about it, speak to your pedia about it, read up about it – but just know that it happens. Don’t feel so bad about it because it is a normal process.”

Just don’t be afraid to ask for help. Even if it’s just for someone to listen to you.”