Building on his desire to make this world a better place for ALL children, Clay Aiken announced on November 15, 2004 his appointment as UNICEF Ambassador for Education for all Children. UNICEF approached Clay after hearing of his involvement with his own charity, the Bubel/Aiken foundation that helps young people with special needs.
As reported by ABC News (full article can be found here ABCnews Article ), it’s not easy to be selected as a UNICEF ambassador. The group sets high standards for celebrities to live up to.
“In terms of becoming an ambassador, it’s definitely a process,” said Lisa Szarkowski, who heads the ambassador program for UNICEF. “We like to work with people who are committed to the cause and the mission and to align themselves with us for the long term.”
“One of the most important responsibilities that you have if you’re answering to the public is that you try to use that position in a way that serves the people you’re trying to entertain,” said Aiken. “I think you have a responsibility when you realize you have kids watching you. … You can set an example to have kids doing drugs, or you can set an example to have kids helping their communities or their world.”
Clay’s first full year as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador was a busy one. On December 26, 2004 devastating Tsunamis hit coastal towns bordering the Indian Ocean.
Clay traveled to Indonesia where he witnessed and participated in UNICEF programs that helped children reconnect with their families, programs which provided care for orphans, assisted children in returning to school and that helped to prevent the spread of disease.
Clay testified on behalf of UNICEF before the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations, Export Financing and Related Programs of the Committee on Appropriations, U.S. House of Representatives.
Clay traveled to Northern Uganda and witnessed first hand the “night commuters”. The night commuters are children who travel nightly from the countryside to slightly more secure towns and UNICEF supported shelters to avoid being abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). UNICEF Uganda Slide show
Clay was Appointed national spokesperson for the 55th annual Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign. He encouraged kids to bring along those now famous orange boxes for Halloween by recording public service announcements in order to help raise funds for the world’s most vulnerable children, including the young victims of Hurricane Katrina. Also, during his 2005 winter concert tour, Clay visited four schools that participated in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF and also in the Tsunami Relief effort.
Clay was so moved by the suffering of children caught in the Middle East conflict, he encouraged his fans to support UNICEF’s efforts in Lebanon. Clay’s fans rallied and in no time raised $70,000 to help provide life saving medicines and other emergency supplies.
Clay lit the UNICEF snowflake at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street in New York City. This snowflake stands as a beacon of hope, peace and compassion for the vulnerable children of the world.
Clay launched UNICEF upClose, an awareness building campaign that was powered by Yahoo Answers. In his Public Service Announcement, Clay asked: “UNICEF is working for the survival of children worldwide. What can we do to get more Americans committed to the cause?” Yahoo Answers Website and UNICEF PSA:
Clay visited Afghanistan and then launched the successful $100,000 in 10 days campaign supporting UNICEF’s lifesaving programs in the country. While Clay toured health centers and schools, he spoke with children and women who are benefiting from the improved facilities. Clay was impressed by those he met and said that Afghanistan’s greatest resource is its people. UNICEF Afghanistan Slide show and Live from Studio 1A: Clay Aiken Q & A (with video below).
Clay and his family visited flood ravaged Mexico. Clay related “The situation in Chiapas and Tabasco has really become a forgotten emergency. Telling the story of these brave people, especially the children, to a U.S. audience is the reason that I am here. Sharing this experience with my family during this time of year makes it even more special.” Entertainment Tonight Mexico Trip
While his first appearance on Broadway kept Clay busy the first part of 2008, he continued to make a difference – participating in the Tap Project – a UNICEF sponsored project that occurs during World Water Week every March. Entertainment Tonight Tap Project Interview:
Clay educates us all about UNICEF’s efforts during the Myanmar situation.
MSNBC Interview Regarding Myanmar
Clay traveled to Somalia, an extremely volatile region of the world, with the hope of bringing the plight of the Somalian people back to the attention of the American public. Clay traveled to Hargeisa, Gabiley and Boroma to see UNICEF–supported projects firsthand—projects that promote child health, safe water, sanitation and hygiene, primary education, child protection and girls’ empowerment.
PSA on Mosquito Netting – Filmed in Somalia
Clay joined his fellow UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors to urge the American Public to believe in Zero. Believe in Zero – Full PSA
UNICEF is gearing up for the 2009 Tap Project (March 22 – March 28). Clay issues a plea from Somalia to support UNICEF in the quest for clean drinking water for all UNICEF Tap Project PSA
Clay asks us all to support ONE, an organization based on mobilizing Americans to speak up about the importance of tackling global poverty, by signing a petition requesting President Barack Obama make the survival of children on a global basis a top priority of his administration. One Blog – Believe in Zero
Clay writes an article on the Huffington Post about the troubles in Somalia, but also about their progress Clay Aiken: Progress in Somalia
While it is unfortunate that so few know of Clay’s tireless work for UNICEF, we will continue to keep you updated as Clay continues his efforts on behalf of UNICEF and the children of the world.
Sources: Larry King Live, abcnews.com, unicefusa.org, Entertainment Tonight, WRAL, NBC, unicef.org, yahoo answers, ONE