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Parents always want the best for their children, but in an increasingly overwhelming world, it can be hard to stay positive. As a society, we need to actively work harder to inspire future generations to protect our planet and its people. Thankfully, there are many amazing role models out there that can motivate children to get involved in making the world a better place.

Top 5 Role Models for Children

  1. Malala YousafzaiMalala is one of the most famous role models of our time. She was born in the small village of Mingora, Pakistan, where it was uncommon for girls to go to school. At just 11 years old, she was forced out of school when the Taliban, the Sunni Islamist military organization, took control of her village. After speaking out about gender equality and the right to learn, she was shot in the head at 15 years old. At this point, most people would have given up, but not Malala. She kept fighting and made her own organization called the Malala Fund—a charity dedicated to fighting for equal rights and providing girls worldwide the opportunity to attend school. That year, she became the youngest person to receive a Nobel Peace Prize and later went on to graduate from Oxford University.
  2. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-Cortez, or AOC, has made headlines across the United States. One of the most progressive candidates, and backed by Senator Bernie Sanders, AOC recently got reelected and kept her spot as a representative for New York’s 14th congressional district at just 30 years old. AOC has been vocal about the wealth inequality gap, racial discrimination and climate change. In a time of uncertainty, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s election has been seen as a progression toward an equal world.
  3. Pink — Alecia Beth Moore, known professionally as Pink, has not only achieved momentous achievements as a singer but has often used her fame to advocate for equality and children’s rights. As a UNICEF ambassador, Pink raises awareness about global poverty, malnutrition and access to education and medicine. Moreover, Pink has supported charities related to HIV/AIDS, animal rights and women’s rights, among others. The famous singer even gets her children involved in the work, making sure to instill a sense of charity in them. At one of her rehearsals, Pink’s daughter set up a backstage candy sale to raise money for the impoverished communities in Haiti. This is a great way to get the kids involved and inspire them to do more on their own.
  4. Selena Gomez — Seen as a triple threat in the entertainment industry, Selena Gomez is another fantastic role model for children. In addition to her successful career, Gomez has consistently shown support for various charities and philanthropic endeavors worldwide. She was also appointed a UNICEF ambassador in 2009 and has dedicated a lot of time to improve societal and economic equality in the world by participating in various UNICEF campaigns and continuing charitable work on her own. Recently, Gomez has used her social media platforms to spread awareness about the social and racial injustices in the United States. Selena Gomez has also shown support for the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the Malala Fund and Free the Children, among others.
  5. Matt DamonMatt Damon is an incredible actor who is no stranger to charity work. He has pledged to provide clean water for impoverished communities worldwide by creating his nonprofit organization. In 2009, Matt Damon and Gary White co-founded Water.org that helps more than 17 countries receive clean water and sanitation supplies. Additionally, Water.org, through its WaterCredit program and microfinancing, supports households living in poverty with loans to obtain essential water systems, making clean water safe, cost-effective and accessible for more than 30 million people.

There are many fantastic role models worldwide that demonstrate how crucial nonprofit organizations are in improving people’s standards of living worldwide. Yet, perhaps the most important role models are the parents at home. Teach children about the real impact of charity work and get them involved in both local and global humanitarian organizations. As children grow older, they will start to venture off on their own charity projects, ensuring a brighter and equal future.

Karin Filipova
Photo: Flickr

Who Runs the World? Girls
‘Never stop trying.’ ‘Choose your own destiny.’ ‘Follow your heart’. These are the types of responses that prevailed when CNN asked people around the world to reflect upon the premiere of CNN Films’ upcoming documentary, “Girl Rising,” a powerful documentary that aims to prove how education can truly change the world, especially for young girls.

“Girl Rising” follows young girls from around the world in their quest to change their lives through education. Studies have shown that education can be “the most important factor in lifting a girl from poverty, mistreatment and drudgery into a fulfilling and rewarding life.” The CNN-sponsored documentary seeks to prove this idea through the personal triumphant success stories of real girls who are forging their paths in the world against all odds.

When asked to share their own advice, many people around the world wrote into CNN with personal stories of their own struggles and to show their support of the documentary’s message.

Most of the respondents were women like Meera Vijayann, who grew up in a small town in southern India and left her job at the city’s matchmaking and firework industries to pursue an education, finally succeeding in becoming a writer and nongovernmental organization worker. Irene Moreno Jimenez, whose remarkable late mother’s teachings and childhood in Mexico inspired her to dream big and value her mind as “the place where freedom is fought for—and won.”

Though the women who responded to CNN’s question hailed from different corners of the globe, their essential message was the same. These women’s tales encourage young girls and women to keep an open mind, not get discouraged by setbacks, and dare to dream.

What these women’s stories and “Girl Rising” hope to communicate is that education is more than the sum of its parts. Education is not merely a collection of diplomas or a good report card or an expensive textbook. Rather, education’s importance lies in its ability to allow girls to face the challenges that lie ahead of them with courage and determination.

“Girl Rising” aired on CNN On June 16th and features renowned actresses and writers including Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Selena Gomez.

– Alexandra Bruschi

Source: CNN, Women News Network
Photo: Raising Jane

UNICEF’s First Celebrity Ambassador, Danny Kaye

“I believe deeply that children are more powerful than oil, more beautiful than rivers, more precious than any other natural resource a country can have. I feel that the most rewarding thing I have ever done in my life is to be associated with UNICEF ” – Danny Kaye.

Celebrities tend to get a bad rap. They make oodles of cash and then most of them use it to live extravagant, self-absorbed lifestyles. But some of Hollywood’s most recognizable names have chosen instead to use their fame for good. Audrey Hepburn, Selena Gomez, and Laurence Fishburne just to name a few, have been UNICEF celebrity ambassadors. These celebrities travel the globe and bring awareness to the incredible work that UNICEF does everyday. And it all started with actor and comedian, Danny Kaye.

Danny Kaye was born David Daniel Kaminsky on January 18, 1913 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the youngest of three sons born to Ukrainian Jewish Immigrants Jacob and Clara Kaminsky. From a young age Danny seemed destined to become an entertainer. At 13 he boldly dropped out of high school to pursue a career in show business. He soon returned to Brooklyn to work a string of odd jobs, none of which lasted very long, and eventually returned to his first love, acting.

During his career Danny wore many hats. He had starring roles in film, theater, and television. The beloved actor appeared in the family classic “White Christmas” alongside Bing Crosby and got the whole country laughing with his role in “The Court Jester”. His zany comedic style and heartwarming attitude won him fans the world over. Then, at the height of his career in 1954, he embarked on a whole new journey, becoming the first ever UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, a role he would hold until his death in 1987.

As an ambassador for UNICEF, Danny was the first celebrity to publicly advocate for a global cause. He was vocal about his belief that the world’s children held the key to the future and in an interview he said, “Any organization that perhaps creates a better understanding for the children would in some measure contribute to the security and the health and the peace of the world”.

Danny worked tirelessly to use his fame to bring the plight of the children he cared for so dearly to the attention of the world. He gave countless interviews, starred in a few UNICEF public service announcements, and provided much needed laughter and entertainment for kids around the world. In 1979, he even earned himself a spot in The Guinness Book of Records by flying a jet to 65 cities in 5 days to greet thousands of UNICEF volunteers for the annual Halloween Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign. Kaye continued his mission to educate the world about the lifesaving work of UNICEF until his death in 1987.

Danny Kaye is gone but not forgotten. The legacy he created by using his stardom for good paved the way for countless celebrities to follow in his footsteps. Since 1954, UNICEF has had over 40 international Goodwill Ambassadors.

– Erin N. Ponsonby

Source: UNICEF