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A Guide to UNICEF Club
As a high school student, you probably realize already that there is no shortage of high school clubs. There are sports teams, art clubs, Math Olympiad, and engineering challenge clubs. There are student government and the Mock Trial team. Many high schools offer all these and more. But what about high school clubs with a more international focus, that give back to global, humanitarian causes?
If you’re looking for a club committed to combatting global injustice and giving back to those that need help most, you have far fewer options. Your school’s chapter of the National Honor Society might touch on some of these issues, but NHS projects usually give back to the local community. Similarly, most volunteer or service projects organized through your school are either affiliated with local organizations or service trips of limited duration.
For students who are interested in getting involved with global justice and humanitarian causes around the world and who wish for their involvement to be continuous and prolonged, UNICEF Club is a great, sometimes under-appreciated choice. Many students are surprised to hear that UNICEF exists as a club at the high school level, having not heard of the organization since their grade school days of collecting change for UNICEF on Halloween.
UNICEF not only exists at the high school level, but also has a thriving and well-supported network of clubs that participate in everything from education campaigns to fundraising efforts and leadership workshops. If you’re interested in growing as a person while contributing to important global humanitarian work, UNICEF Club may be the perfect fit for you. To learn more, keep reading.
What Is the UNICEF Club?
UNICEF was founded in 1946 to help children whose lives had been devastated by World War II. It has since expanded to support and improve the lives of children and their families around the world. UNICEF now operates in 190 countries and territories, and is credited with saving more young lives that any other humanitarian organization in the world. Remarkably, it is sustained entirely through donations.
UNICEF high school clubs partner with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to educate, advocate, and fundraise for children’s rights campaigns around the world. This includes educating your community about the important work that UNICEF does, advocating to raise awareness about child survival issues, communicating with public officials or the general public to influence public policy, and raising funds for UNICEF through various means.
Some of the causes that UNICEF supports through education and fundraising include global children’s issues like Ebola, clean water, nutrition, immunizations, and malaria, along with emergency relief.
What Do Members Do As a Part of the UNICEF Club?
As a member of the UNICEF club, you become involved in a number of different projects within the fields of education, advocacy, and fundraising as they relate to children’s rights and health on a global scale.
As far as the education goes, you’ll be both student and teacher. Sometimes you’ll take part in online webinars or review important documents to learn more about a humanitarian cause. Other times, you’ll put your new knowledge to work by educating your community about that same cause. You might hold a panel discussion, bake sale, movie screening, or sporting event to raise awareness on issues of child survival. These could include things like hosting a social justice documentary and discussion or holding a healthy bake sale to raise awareness about children’s nutrition.
As an advocate, you’ll become involved in the politics of fundraising as you promote global justice and support important children’s survival issues. You can expect to write letters to Congress, sign or even draft petitions, and learn how to articulate important issues to your community. You’ll also educate members of your community about the role that UNICEF plays in supporting these critical issues.
Finally, the biggest hands-on component of most UNICEF clubs is fundraising. Because it is sustained entirely through donations, UNICEF relies heavily on the fundraisers executed by local chapters and clubs. These official fundraisers are easy to register with UNICEF through their online application.
High school UNICEF clubs are also required to submit a Reporting and Reflection Survey at the end of each term. The goal of this survey is to report the accomplishments of clubs, increase the national staff ’s ability to track activity, share best practices, and demonstrate the impact of resources devoted to the clubs.
In order to keep high school UNICEF clubs engaged and active throughout the school year, UNICEF provides a complete annual calendar of suggested activities and opportunities. It includes general announcements, including how and when to register your club online and registration deadlines for meetings.
Each month in the calendar has a theme, ranging from Back to School in September to the Refugee Crisis in June. Along with the theme are related events and important dates, like Earth Day and World Immunization Week.
The yearly calendar also includes a monthly suggested action related to that month’s theme. These include things like educating your club on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, advocating for children’s rights by writing letters to legislators, and specific fundraising ideas.
None of the activities on the calendar are required, so UNICEF clubs can vary in their intensity from chapter to chapter. Some put on one fundraiser each year, while others stick to the calendar exactly, ticking off every action point as they go. The only requirement of every club is to complete the Reporting and Reflection Survey twice each year.
Before you join your local chapter of UNICEF, be sure that you understand the extent of the commitment you’re making. Some clubs will expect you to attend a certain percentage of meetings and participate in a certain percent of activities. Be sure that you are able to give the time and energy required before you become a member.
What Are the Benefits of Being a Member of UNICEF Club?
Like any club, UNICEF club provides friendship and companionship from people who care about similar issues. It is both reassuring and empowering to work together towards a meaningful goal.
Beyond that, UNICEF club provides education about many important global and humanitarian issues. You can expect to learn about issues you’d never heard of, along with learning more about issues you already understand. In addition, you will learn how to work towards effectively combating these critical crises.
There can sometimes be a feeling of helplessness that comes with addressing problems that are so big and far away, but in the context of UNICEF club, you can help in a way that you know is part of a bigger effort, making a real difference in the lives of real people. While you may not see the impact of your work firsthand, you’ll know that you played a role in the overall successes UNICEF achieves.
Further, UNICEF club provides the opportunity for leadership development. Through an annual Leadership Symposium, regular webinars, the National Council, and the Student Summit, there are many opportunities to become more involved and to grow as a leader while you do so.
How Do I Become Involved in UNICEF Club?
If there is already an existing chapter of UNICEF Club at your school, getting involved is as simple as joining the club. Once you become an official member and have been registered online with your club, you will have access to all of your club’s resources and are eligible to participate in any of their activities.
If there is no existing chapter of the UNICEF Club at your school, UNICEF provides all the tools necessary for creating your own. The How to Start a Club guide walks you through each step from things to consider before starting a chapter of the club, to registering the club to transitioning leadership from year to year in order to sustain the club over time. This transition of leadership is a particularly important aspect of the UNICEF Club, and UNICEF specifies that “applying to be a UNICEF Club means committing to a long-term relationship with the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. It means ensuring proper leadership and leadership transition.”
If you aren’t ready to commit to starting your own chapter of UNICEF, there are still ways to get involved. Non-official groups may plan one-time events to benefit UNICEF, but may not receive the same level of support and access to resources as official clubs do. For example, you could organize an independent fundraiser to benefit UNICEF’s End Trafficking Campaign, and you could donate all the proceeds to the campaign, but your fundraiser would not be an official UNICEF event.
There are many different ways to get involved with UNICEF, and the broad variety of commitments allow for a schedule and time commitment to suit almost any availability. Make a decision based on your own availability.
If you’re interested in human rights and global humanitarian causes, UNICEF is a great way to get involved and make a difference. There are many different levels of involvement to choose from, depending on your time commitment and dedication. You could choose to join your local club and participate in events when possible, you could choose to organize and participate in a one-time, independent event to benefit UNICEF, or you could go a step further and take a leadership role in your school’s chapter of the UNICEF Club.
To learn more about involvement in humanitarian causes or global change as a high school student, and to find other ways to get involved, consider the benefits of the CollegeVine Near Peer Mentorship Program, which provides access to practical advice on topics from college admissions to career aspirations, all from successful college students.
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