Since 2014, the kids-helping-kids movement UNICEF Kid Power has been raising the funds needed to provide severely malnourished children the nutrition they need to survive. Helping to fuel this movement is UNICEF USA's partner Star Wars: Force for Change, which has raised more than $9 million in just three years for the program — and inspired tens of thousands of kids to be a Force for Change by getting active to save lives.
In April, many of these young fans showed up in full force at Star Wars Celebration in Orlando to get active with the newest UNICEF Kid Power Champion, Ashley Eckstein. Voice of Star Wars Rebels’ Ahsoka Tano, Ashley has headlined two Star Wars: Force for Change Missions for the UNICEF Kid Power app.
We caught up with her in Orlando to ask what all these kids were so excited about.
ASHLEY ECKSTEIN: Star Wars inspires me to be a better person. I’ve been a lifelong fan, and I felt like I won the lottery when I was cast as the voice of Ahsoka Tano. Being a part of the Lucasfilm and Disney family is an honor I do not take lightly. Star Wars is a story of hope, a story of good overcoming evil, and I just want to do good with the opportunities I’m given and be a reflection of hope.
Have you met fans who feel the same way?
ASHLEY ECKSTEIN: Yes — it's the kids that inspire me to be a UNICEF Kid Power Champion! Kids love Star Wars, and they are like sponges. They want to learn so badly how to be a Jedi or a Rebel. As an actress, I take the responsibility of being a role model seriously.
Kids are like sponges. They want to learn so badly how to be a Jedi or a Rebel.
Is the Ahsoka Tano character a match for UNICEF’s mission?
ASHLEY ECKSTEIN: Ahsoka would definitely be a part of the UNICEF mission! To me, Ahsoka Tano is the epitome of the light side. She is good through and through. She always wants to do what’s right, and she always wants to help others. I often ask myself, “What would Ahsoka do?”
You recently got to meet and get active with a lot of Star Wars fans and UNICEF Kid Power kids at Celebration. How was it?
ASHLEY ECKSTEIN: I did a Star Wars workout with the kids. It was the highlight of my time at Celebration! To see the excitement, passion, determination and focus on their faces as they practiced their Star Wars moves and earned power points to save other kids' lives truly made my weekend.
You recently became a UNICEF Kid Power Champion. What does that mean to you?
ASHLEY ECKSTEIN: I get to use the platform I’m given as a Star Wars actress and do good with it — to be a Force for Change! It’s my personal mission to bring awareness to the UNICEF Kid Power program and help earn as many Kid Power Points as possible so we can help kids in need all over the world.
Kids want to help, but often they feel they are too young to do anything. When they realize they can save lives just by being active, they feel so empowered!
There was a time in my early 20’s when I first moved to LA and I was very lonely. I didn’t have many friends and I remember calling my Mom, crying. She encouraged me to start volunteering my time to help others. She said that it would make me feel better, and she was right! There’s no better feeling than that of helping someone else and bringing a smile to someone else’s face.
Do you have any personal goals for the coming year?
ASHLEY ECKSTEIN: I hope to inspire kids to get active and save lives! It’s really important to me to encourage kids to be active and do good. Inherently, kids want to help, but often they feel they are too young to do anything. When they realize they can save lives just by being active, they feel so empowered!
If you get a chance to travel with UNICEF and meet children helped by the UNICEF Kid Power program, what would you say to them?
ASHLEY ECKSTEIN: I would let them know that they are not alone. Sometimes being in need can feel so lonely and isolating. I would want them to know that we care and that we are fighting for them.