As the younger generation begins to become more interested in humanitarian aid, it appears that college campuses are a great place to spread the word about how to get involved and make a difference.

The UNICEF Campus Initiative is a “growing grassroots movement” founded in the belief that college students, especially, have an important role in ensuring the survival of children across the globe.

UNICEF’s goal is to bring successful and low-cost methods of treatment and prevention to children who currently lack them. By doing so, UNICEF hopes to eliminate the possibility for children to die from preventable causes. They vow to provide the means for healthy living to all of these children, regardless of household income, location or ethnicity. UNICEF emphasizes that most people in the United States do not have to worry about these preventable causes, which include malnutrition, unsafe drinking water and lack of some of the most basic vaccines.

With clubs on over 120 campuses in the U.S., the UNICEF Campus Initiative is seeing a great deal of success and will most likely become a part of more college campuses in the near future. The heart of the Campus Initiative lies within the passion and determination of the college students in its club, but the initiative is also very open to any partner organizations, faculty members and staff as well as administrators.

The initiative thrives due to the variety of events the clubs hold and how these events serve as a way to support UNICEF’s work in over 150 countries around the world. Many of these campus clubs participate in UNICEF’s nation campaigns such as Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF and the UNICEF Tap Project. However, every campus club seems to have its own drive to come up with new ideas and new ways to promote UNICEF’s work internationally.

Columbia University’s UNICEF holds a number of different events to raise money for UNICEF, including benefit concerts, banquet dinners, screening movies, and spreading information about new projects and issues. They are committed to raising the level of awareness on their own campus as well as in the surrounding community, participating in a number of service events in New York City in hopes of making it more “child-friendly.”

An example of one of Columbia’s unique events was “Palestine Dances,” which the club sponsored a showcase of Palestinian culture to raise money for children in Gaza. Another one of their events was called, “Sarajevo Revisited,” where the documentary Miss Sarajevo was screened for students. Additionally, the documentary’s director, Bill Carter, attended the screening and held a discussion with the club about the effects that violence can have on children.

There have also been national campaigns focused on the UNICEF Campus Initiative, such as the partnership between the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the Association of College Unions International and the George Harrison Fund of UNICEF to start a fundraising challenge on college campuses.

Since its start in 2008, over $1 million has been raising through the campus challenge. This year marks the six year of the challenge, which is running from Aug. 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014.

– Julie Guacci

Sources: UNICEF, Columbia University, Association of College Unions International
Photo: Ohio State University