NEW YORK -- The U.S. Fund for UNICEF has completed the launch of UNICEF Kid Power, an innovative child health initiative that encourages elementary school-age kids in the United States to get physically active in order to help save the lives of their peers in developing countries. Kicking off in New York, Boston and Dallas the initiative leveraged the power of technology together with movement-based curriculum and activities to promote fitness among American students.
Kid Power simultaneously helped UNICEF— the world’s largest purchaser and distributor of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food—provide lifesaving nutrition to severely malnourished children around the world. UNICEF Kid Power was sponsored by the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF and backed by Mayors Bill de Blasio (New York), Marty Walsh (Boston) and Mike Rawlings (Dallas), and supported by local sports teams and players including the Boston Celtics, Boston Bruins, Brooklyn Nets and Dallas Mavericks. Over the course of the 30-day program, sports teams encouraged kids to stay active by cheering them on with classroom visits, recognizing the young philanthropists at home games and more. Some 10,000 participating elementary school students monitored their physical activity with UNICEF Kid Power fitness bands that displayed the number of steps taken and number of points earned. Program supporters converted students’ points into monetary donations toward the purchase of therapeutic food. A full day of physical activity—12,000 steps—translated into five Kid Power Points. Every five Kid Power Points earned converted into one packet of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food, a specially-designed protein and vitamin-rich peanut paste that is used to save the lives of children with severe acute malnutrition, a deadly condition if left untreated. The UNICEF Kid Power program also included in-classroom curriculum and educational activities focused on childhood malnutrition. The three-city launch followed a successful four-week pilot program this past October in Sacramento, where nearly 900 students, teachers and teaching assistants at six schools tested the potential of UNICEF Kid Power with the support of the Sacramento Kings and Mayor Kevin Johnson. According to an assessment by independent evaluators, school kids engaged in the program were 55 percent more active than those not participating in the initiative. UNICEF Kid Power participants in Sacramento also earned enough therapeutic food packets for 473 severely malnourished children to complete a full course of treatment. The numbers for this latest launch are not yet available. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF aims to launch UNICEF Kid Power in additional cities in the Fall of 2015 and into 2016.