Things that we take for granted — clean water, abundant food, shelter, vaccines, schools — are a luxury for kids in developing nations. To prove this point and show Atlantans how they can help, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF will host the UNICEF Experience at Atlanta’s Georgia Public Broadcasting Studios on April 29.

“It doesn’t take a lot of money to save the life of a child,” Caryl M. Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, told Encore Atlanta at last year’s UNICEF Experience. “I will leave here, go back to my home in New York and tuck my children in, kiss them goodnight and go to bed. And there is a mom somewhere who will not get that privilege for want of a 15-cent vaccine.”

The UNICEF Experience gives visitors information about what it costs to provide education, vaccines, sanitary living conditions and clean drinking water for children in the 157 developing countries that UNICEF helps. On display will be “school-in-a-box” kits, baby scales, early childhood development kits and other relief items, so people can see where their dollars go without having to travel overseas. UNICEF program experts will be on hand to answer questions. And there will be experiential elements, like a water carrying station, so attendees can experience firsthand the daily challenges UNICEF children face overseas.

Despite the amount of work there is to be done, people don’t have to give up the things they enjoy in order to make a difference in a child’s life. The smallest donation can have a huge impact, and that’s what the UNICEF Experience is designed to prove.

“I want people to walk away from here knowing that every single day, as we go about our business, 21,000 children die of causes we know how to prevent,” Stern said. “We believe that number should be zero. And I want [people] to walk away knowing they can make that happen.”

The ability to save lives is what prompted the event’s founding co-chair Vern Yip, host of HGTV’s “Deserving Design,” to become a global ambassador for UNICEF. “In the [six years] I’ve been involved, they’ve been successful in getting the number down from 26,000 to 21,000 — so that’s 5,000 kids a day that aren’t dying needlessly,” Yip said. “UNICEF does not care about political affiliation, they don’t care about the political stability of the country, they don’t care about geographic boundaries, they don’t care about the religious affiliation of the child or sex or anything. All they care about is there is a child somewhere in the world that needs help, and they’re going to try and figure out how to get there.”

For more information on the family friendly April 29 event, visit unicefusa.org/atlantaexperience.

About Kathy Janich

Kathy Janich, Encore Atlanta’s editor, is a longtime arts journalist who has been seeing, working in or writing about the performing arts for most of her life. She's a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas, Americans for the Arts and the National Arts Marketing Project. Full disclosure: She’s also an artistic associate at Synchronicity Theatre.

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