In July 2014, I began my role as the first Global Citizenship Fellow in Seattle, Washington. In the northwest corner of the continental United States—more than 800 miles from the nearest U.S. Fund for UNICEF regional office—I am tasked with building connections to educate and advocate on behalf of the world’s children, creating a network of supporters committed to advancing global citizenship. Teachers, faith leaders and child rights advocates are just a sampling of the community members I collaborate with on a daily basis, to raise awareness of UNICEF’s work among the Seattle community.
Over the first six months as a Fellow, I came to know that the most welcoming and unrelenting supporters of UNICEF are elementary school students. During Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF season, I engaged more than 1,300 students in the Seattle area, with the goal of sparking their interest in global issues and inspiring a growing generation of global citizens. At each classroom presentation, students squeezed packages of Plumpy’Nut and shook packets of Oral Rehydration Salts, guessing what each product contained, how much each costs (forty cents and ten cents, respectively) and for what purpose these items are used to help children. I challenged students in several classes to hold a ten-liter water container filled with water for the length of my presentation, simulating what it would be like to have to collect one’s own water.
Many of the students I engaged are already exemplary global citizens within their schools. Student council members at the French American School of Puget Sound sought to raise $2,500 this year—and they were impressively close, donating $2,355.56. Their funds are able to purchase more than 23,000 Oral Rehydration Salt Packets, essential supplies in combatting severe diarrhea, a leading cause of death of children under age five worldwide. Fourth grade student council representative Lauren wrote, “What I learned this year about UNICEF is that we can save many children that live in other parts of the world. The girls are less fortunate and don’t get to go to school and that they give two cups of rice to the girls and one cup for the boys so the families will send their girls to school. They also provide vaccines against terrible diseases. It’s good to help children who are in need.”
It’s not just adults, celebrities or philanthropists that have a measurable impact, and the vision to put children first. Since 1950, when Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF first began, kids have raised more than $170 million. As I develop skills as an educator and advocate, I am eager to engage my favorite constituents in Seattle - students - to not only broaden the support of UNICEF’s work in Seattle, but to encourage youth to think of themselves as global citizens with a measurable and continuing impact on the world around them.
For more information on education and advocacy work in Seattle, please contact Sylvia Stellmacher at firstname.lastname@example.org.