UNICEF brings the world into the classroom

May 2, 2012
“I want to make sure my children understand how lucky they are.” “It is important that my kids grow up to become compassionate adults.” “I hope our children carry on our legacy of helping children in need.” I hear these sentiments so often when discussing family philanthropy with U.S. Fund for UNICEF’s most generous donors. They want to find a way to connect their children—most of them growing up privileged here in the U.S.—with kids whom they will never be able to meet, who don’t share their language or culture, and who live in poverty for no reason other than where they were born. In short, they want to make sure their kids grow up to care. [gallery] From third graders at Pine Bush Elementary School. In December, I had one of the most rewarding experiences of my tenure at the U.S. Fund when a friend invited me to speak to her daughter Riley’s third grade class at Pine Bush Elementary School in Guilderland, NY. Riley’s teacher, Ms. Germano, and her fellow third grade teachers have been raising funds for Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF for the past 8 years. This year the classes raised $1,700 to support UNICEF’s work. When I started by asking the students what they know about UNICEF, dozens of hands shot high in the air. “Some kids don’t have enough water and UNICEF helps.” “Kids can get really sick and it only costs a little to make them healthy.” “School in a Box gives kids a school when they don’t have a real school to go to.” They really knew their stuff! It was abundantly clear that the third grade teachers made global awareness a key part of their curriculum by using UNICEF teaching materials. The teachers were also excited to learn about TeachUNICEF, which provides free resources to help educators bring a global understanding of the needs of children and families from around the world into the classroom. Thanks to Ms. Germano, Mrs. Pickett, Mrs. Cipriano, Mrs. Schaefer, Mrs. Whipple, and all of the teachers who bring UNICEF into their classrooms, a new generation of children are learning to care about those in need. This will shape their career choices, volunteer opportunities, and education of their own children. One of the kids wrote me a card that says “I want to work for UNICEF!” I look forward to working with her.