UNICEF works in the world’s toughest places to reach the most disadvantaged children and adolescents – and to protect the rights of every child, everywhere. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we do whatever it takes to help children survive, thrive and fulfill their potential, from early childhood through adolescence.
What is UNICEF?
UNICEF, or the United Nations Children’s Fund, is a United Nations Program based out of New York City that provides humanitarian and developmental assistance to children and their mothers around the globe. UNICEF’s work is carried out in 192 countries through country programs and National Committees. Following the organization’s conviction that “All children have a right to survive, thrive and fulfill their potential-to the benefit of a better world,” UNICEF works everywhere from Central and Eastern Europe to West and Central Africa, placing emphasis on major social issues such as child survival and development, basic education and gender equality, HIV/AIDS and children, child protection, and policy advocacy and partnerships.
Through over 60 years of service to children, UNICEF has accomplished some incredible things, making major strides in various social spheres. Their work to empower girls influenced by gender disparity and lack of educational opportunity, for example, has been particularly effective. For instance, the organization has developed a program called TechnoGirls in South Africa that improves participation and outcomes in the STEM field for young girls. Ultimately, the main objective of the organization is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) developed in September 2000, all of which focus on combating poverty and reducing hunger, disease, environmental degradation and gender discrimination. Key Club and Kiwanis International partners with UNICEF through the Eliminate Project, a cause dedicated to eliminating maternal and neonatal tetanus. Tetanus is responsible for the death of over 34,000 infants every year, and mothers and babies in 14 different countries depend on Kiwanis donations to help them and their children. A detailed outline of these goals and UNICEF’s progress in attaining them can be found on unicef.org.
Early Childhood Development in Zambia
Key Club International voted in 2022 to support UNICEF's work on early childhood development in Zambia.
In Zambia, progress has been made to expand learning opportunities for children throughout the country. At the primary school level, enrollment for both boys and girls is now almost universal. Despite notable achievements, 74 percent of grade 1 students start school without the necessary foundational competencies. For many children in the early years, the coverage of care and education services remains persistently low.
Children throughout Zambia are at risk of poor developmental outcomes due to poverty, inadequate nutrition, and a lack of access to basic services and early learning opportunities. Recent advances in neuroscience show that a child’s development is fundamentally shaped by their environment in the earliest years of their life. Children who do not receive adequate health, nutrition, early stimulation, learning opportunities, care and protection—all identified as elements of nurturing care—tend to have lowered cognitive, language and psychosocial outcomes as well as executive functioning, which translates to lowered academic achievement in school and, ultimately, a greater risk of dropping out of school.
Recent increased attention to nurturing care has led to a proliferation of related ECD public policies and programs. While Zambia’s government and civil society recognize the importance of ECD and the high costs to both children and society at large if it is ignored, there remains a lack of understanding and a scarcity of affordable, quality, accessible ECD services. Greater investments and improved capacity and coordination are needed to expand the coverage, quality and sustainably of ECD programs in Zambia.
UNICEF in Action
UNICEF has joined forces with Zambia’s Ministry of Health, Ministry of General Education and Ministry of Community Development and Social Services to implement community-based solutions that can provide Zambia’s most vulnerable children with the best start in life. Together, UNICEF and its partners are working to expand nurturing care, which is essential for child development and lays the foundation for lifelong health, learning and well-being.
The partnership is centered around Insaka (which means “a place to gather and exchange ideas”) - an innovative and integrated ECD approach at the community level. The approach focuses on the establishment of community-based centers or hubs that act as platforms for integrated community development. These hubs are meant to support the early development of young children and facilitate collaboration and ongoing learning among government workers, parents, community members, NGOs and local organizations. At the hubs and during home visits, parents are counselled on how to provide a nurturing and stimulating environment for young children and are informed about how to access health, nutrition, early education and child protection services.
UNICEF and its partners have focused on strengthening ECD services in six communities in rural Zambia where coverage of care and early learning have been low. To date, UNICEF has supported the development of six Insaka Centers in these communities, benefitting over 4,000 caregivers and their children. Through the implementation of the Insaka program in these communities, UNICEF has demonstrated that this community-based ECD model can have positive benefits for families by way of influencing parenting practices, the quality of a child’s home environment and a child’s development.
Based on the success of the program in the six target communities, UNICEF now plans to expand the Insaka Centers to 10 additional communities within rural areas of Zambia. An investment of approximately $3 million is required to scale up the program and implement the following key activities over the next four years:
Enhancing Skills of ECD Service Providers: Through trainings and ongoing support, UNICEF will enhance the knowledge, skills and coordination of service providers (community-based volunteers, health staff, nurses, ECD teachers, social welfare officers) who deliver services at the Insaka hubs and throughout the communities.
Expanding Community Hubs: Insaka hubs will be constructed using local and environmentally sustainable materials. Each hub includes a public hall, spaces for children to learn and play, a community kitchen, playground, water points, sanitation acilities and a vegetable garden.
Counselling Parents: Trained community-based volunteers will reinforce nurturing care practices through one-on-one counselling sessions that are focused on play and communication, feeding practices, and ways of preventing and responding to illness.
Providing Technical Assistance to Government: UNICEF’s global credibility in the area of ECD and considerable technical support to states and civil society, place the agency in a strong position to advance early childhood development in Zambia. This vertical access and expertise will support national and local government actors and ensure the sustainability of this ECD program.
To address the inequities in early childhood development, UNICEF will look for meaningful support from partners who are committed to ensuring that even the most marginalized children have a chance to experience positive, responsive and nurturing early care in a safe environment. Together with our partners, UNICEF will continue to apply what we know about the influences of experience and environment on child brain development to improve the lives of disadvantaged children. With your support, we can remove key barriers, close equity gaps and make sure that every child can have a fair start in life.
The Impact of Your Support
With an investment of $3 million over four years, the Key Club could enable UNICEF to directly reach 24,000 young children, 24,000 caregivers, 600 community-based volunteers and 360 district officials. Indirectly, your support would allow UNICEF to reach an additional 60,000 community members through improved access to water and other services. The following are examples of the impact your gift could have:
$5 could provide one child with locally produced low cost materials for early stimulation and early learning.
$19 could provide a child or caregiver with quality home-based early childhood development services.
$833 could train and continuedly mentor a community based volunteer on the holistic Nurturing Care approach.
$3,000 could construct a borehole with handpump.
$11,000 could construct a climate resilient solar-powered borehole.
$35,000 could build one Insaka center with environmentally friendly and culturally sensitive classroom, baby stimulation room, playground, borehole with handpump, latrines, vegetable garden, solar panels, and biogas fueled kitchen. All constructed with locally sourced materials.
Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF
Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF is by far one of the easiest ways for Key Clubs to help UNICEF, and all funds raised will go directly to supporting the Eliminate Project and its cause. Get your Key Club ready for some service this Halloween and ask them to collect donations instead of candy when they go around their neighborhood. You can also ask for donations at your school or even host a spooky Halloween Dance to encourage students and faculty to contribute.
Scare up some funds and fun this Halloween by participating in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF. It’s a great opportunity to collect donations instead of candy or to bring club members together for a fabulous event or party. All money collected by Key Clubs will support Early Childhood Development in Zambia!
Did you know? A proud participant in Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF since 1994, Key Club has raised more than US$7 million for child survival and development programs around the world—from efforts to eliminate iodine deficiency disorder to HIV/AIDS initiatives in Kenya and Swaziland to the Eliminate Project.
How do I participate?
Key Clubs can plan fundraisers in their schools and communities, including going out trick-or-treating for UNICEF. Please note that UNICEF no longer provides cardboard boxes for fundraising. Key Club International has canister wrappers and other online resources that you can print out and use.
After you fundraise for Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, send your donations to the Kiwanis Children's Fund with the Donation Form to ensure they they support WASH and that your Key Club gets recognized for the donation. If you send your donations directly to UNICEF, they will not be part of the larger Key Club International/Kiwanis Family program.
Mail the check and gift form (PDF coming soon) to:
Kiwanis Children’s Fund
P.O . Box 6457 - Dept. #286
Indianapolis, IN 46206
What else can my Key Club do besides walk door-to-door on Halloween?
Hold a Seriously Spooky Bake Sale. Whip up some creepy treats for a bake sale at your school.
Host a Trunk-or-Treat. Partner with Kiwanis family clubs from your area to host a children's trick-or-treat night. Find an appropriate parking lot, school gym, or another location and determine activities. Decorate stations with dangling spiders, cobwebs and other festive materials. Invite families to bring small children to trick-or-treat and participate in activities. Invite community members to visit each booth for fun treats and concoctions in exchange for a donation to help save moms and babies.
Host a haunted dance. Charge US$5 admission and invite guests to come as their favorite blood-sucking characters. Publicize and sell tickets early (with a cut-off deadline) to determine attendance and food requirements.
Team up for good. Ask a local restaurant to donate part of an evening’s earnings to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF like the Key Club of Cypress Falls did. Make sure to publicize the event ahead of time to friends, family, neighbors and school staff.
Rake leaves for donations. Organize teams of Key Clubbers to offer leaf-raking services in local neighborhoods for a donation to The Eliminate Project. You can raise funds while helping your neighbors!
Host a haunted house, hayride or trail. Work with your school or a local park to organize a Halloween-themed event for kids in your community. Invite families to come and participate in your haunted house, hayride or trail and charge admission.