Imagine that you are a kid with the power to save lives — simply by running to a friend's house, skateboarding to school or climbing a tree in your front yard. You'd do it, right?
That, in a nutshell, is what UNICEF Kid Power is all about. The program invites kids to get active and help UNICEF end global malnutrition — to activate their inner heroes and become global citizens.
They can do this a couple of different ways. They can strap on a Kid Power Band, the World's First Wearable-for-Good. Or they can load the free Kid Power App onto any smartphone or compatible personal activity tracker and start moving.
UNICEF Kid Power Missions
As kids run, jump and play, their movements count as a currency that unlocks lifesaving nutrition, in the form of packets of ready-to-use therapeutic food, or RUTF, that UNICEF delivers to severely malnourished kids in need. The more Kid Power kids move, the more Missions they complete, the more points they earn, and the more packets they unlock.
Thanks to the efforts of hundreds of thousands of Kid Power participants and school teams from across the U.S. and beyond, the program is already making an impact. To date, more than 6.4 million packets of RUTF have been distributed to 40,000 children in need.
Kids And Adults Can Both Take Part
From now through May, UNICEF is inviting kids and adults alike to join the collective movement, share their stories on social media, and help UNICEF save even more lives. Momentum continues to build, thanks to continued enthusiasm by celebrity champions and mission leaders like Ashley Eckstein, and with free events in Atlanta, Los Angeles and Chicago. (Click here to register.)
In many ways, UNICEF Kid Power is just getting started.
Play With Purpose
Malnutrition affects nearly a quarter of the world's children under five. Severe acute malnutrition, or SAM, affects 16 million children annually and claims 1 million young lives. Those who survive are too weak to fight off disease; they struggle to learn in school and face a lifetime of poverty. With famine proclaimed in South Sudan and looming in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen and more countries, the risks have never been greater.
To counter these risks, UNICEF procures and distributes RUTF, often called "miracle food" for its ability to bring kids with SAM back from the brink. Easy to ship, store and dispense — you simply tear open the packet and serve — it requires no refrigeration and stays fresh for up to two years. Due to lack of funding, UNICEF and partners have only been able to reach about 20% of the children who need it.
Here's where UNICEF Kid Power comes in. The program was set up to help close that funding gap and increase UNICEF's reach so that every child who needs treatment can get it. The points kids earn while wearing their Kid Power Bands and going on missions translate into contributions from corporate sponsors and private donors, support that is contingent on Kid Power participants meeting their own personal get-moving goals.
Kids Helping Kids — And Themselves
In addition to empowering kids to help other kids, the Kid Power program also motivates them to stay active, an especially important message considering the latest statistics. According to the 2014 U.S. Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, only a quarter of America's young people meet the recommended minimum for physical activity, which is an hour a day of moderate to vigorous exercise, five days a week. By offering a built-in incentive to get moving, Kid Power gives children a fun and meaningful way to turn things around — not just for other kids, for themselves too.
What makes the program so unique is the way it harnesses the power of interactive technology to encourage behavior that is rewarding in itself — getting active — while giving American kids the chance to make a positive social impact in the wider world. The program builds on the kids-helping-kids tradition that started with Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF more than 65 years ago and continues to resonate today.
The Kid Power Band, available at unicefkidpower.org, target.com or your local Target store, was named as one of Time magazine's "Best Inventions" of 2016. It features a durable adjustable strap, pedometer, and accelerometer to measure movements; the readings appear on the LED display. The rechargeable battery gets its juice through a standard USB connection. Users sync the Band with the free UNICEF Kid Power App to download interactive missions, connect with other team members and convert their activity into impact — no personal info or location is stored or transmitted. And this year's innovation is band-free technology for those who prefer to track their activity on their smartphones.
Show the world your Kid Power. Join the Kid Power team today. Because everyday actions can help save lives!
Teachers who are interested in bringing the Kid Power program into their classrooms can purchase the lessons and activities kit at the Teacher Store at Scholastic.com. You can also bring Kid Power to your workplace. Visit workplace.unicefkidpower.org for details.