|Children show their UNICEF Walk passes.|
Over 100,000 Finnish children and young people help their counterparts in developing countries through UNICEF action each year. The most popular activity is the UNICEF Walk, which is an event for schools combining sports, education and fundraising. The idea is to find sponsors who donate to UNICEF according to the distance completed – so the further you go, the more your sponsors donate!
The idea has been adopted in many countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Slovenia, Norway, Denmark and Finland. In many Finnish schools, it has become an annual tradition and the children love it.
|These brave first graders wanted to complete at least five kilometres.|
As one fourth grader put it, “This is a cool way to help! I have already earned books and pencils for five kids! Can I go one more lap?”
The all-time biggest UNICEF Walk was organized by a local UNICEF school, Myllyoja primary school, in the city of Oulu in 2003. This was the fourth walk the school has organized and 8,500 children participated in the event. Euros 66,000 was raised, setting a new fund raising record for the school. The funds benefited one of UNICEF Finland’s programmes, namely immunization in one of Africa’s poorest countries, Chad.
|Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo teaches Myllyoja primary school learners a game.|
“UNICEF works to build a world in which a child’s right to a dignified and safe childhood is fulfilled. Can there be a better goal in school work either?” said teacher Liisa Reinikainen.
This major effort by Oulu’s children, teachers and parents gained international recognition, and as a result, UNICEF’s international Goodwill Ambassador, singer Angelique Kidjo visited Myllyoja school for a thank-you ceremony. In a touching address to the children, Kidjo shared her experiences about travelling around the world. She said she sees too many children whose situation makes her cry, but that seeing happy, healthy and educated children, boys and girls alike, gives her hope for a better world.
|Goodwill Ambassador Angelique Kidjo shares a song with learners at Myllyoja primary school.|
Through UNICEF activities and by being a nominated UNICEF school, Myllyoja primary school wants to show love and empathy for those children who have to live in less fortunate circumstances. Concrete help through fundraising is important. Equally important is work done in every classroom - education to promote tolerance, child rights and equality, and learning to value people closest to you, in your own school and neighbourhood.
Children here learn that changing the world starts with yourself.