Active citizenship is more important than ever because today’s world is more diverse, interdependent, and globalized than it was in previous generations. Nonetheless, according to a study on the civic mission of schools, 36 percent of students scored “below basic” on the National Assessment of Educational Progress in civics, and 27 percent could not list two privileges of citizenship.
The same study highlights factors cited by students who drop out of school, such as disengagement in “boring and irrelevant” classroom learning, a lack of experiential learning, and limited connections between academic learning and life outside of school.
Global citizenship education is an area of study that has been increasingly embraced in recent years as a way to ignite student interest in civic and world affairs through meaningful participation in activities that contribute to a more equitable world.
UNICEF Kid Power is a new program that brings to life the ideals of global citizenship education. The idea is simple. By getting active with Kid Power Bands (activity trackers), students earn points and unlock therapeutic food packets for severely malnourished children around the world. The more kids move, the more points they earn and the more lives they protect. UNICEF Kid Power addresses both childhood health in the United States and malnourishment around the world:
In the United States, one in four children is physically inactive, according to Designed to Move’s 2014 report on the state of physical activity. The relatively small number of children who get the recommended 60 minutes of daily physical activity is a major public health concern, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Schools initiative; in the last 15 years, walking and biking to school have decreased by at least 50 percent, and correspondingly children spend a majority of their time participating in sedentary activities.
Globally, one in four children is malnourished—nearly 159 million children worldwide. About 34 million of these children suffer from acute malnutrition, resulting in 1 million children dying each year. And 16 million children suffer from the most life-threatening form of malnourishment, severe acute malnutrition, which can require specialized feeding care such as treatment with ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTF).
UNICEF Kid Power increases students’ physical activity by tapping into their inherent desire to help their peers, and through the process opens the door to a whole world of learning about important civic and global issues. Here’s how Brandon Moreno, a fourth-grader in Sacramento, Calif., sums up his experience:
“UNICEF Kid Power was an awesome program for our school and for people who don’t have enough food to be healthy. Our class was excited to know that if we got active, we could actually feed hungry children around the world and get healthier ourselves at the same time.”
For more information, to sign up your school, or to review the standards-aligned Kid Power curricular resources, visit schools.unicefkidpower.org. The deadline to apply for the program is Nov. 12.