NEW YORK, April 22 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Earlier this month, three American Airlines employee volunteers took part in a UNICEF field visit to Belize. Amy Cedarburg from Miami, Linda Feeney from Chicago and Terrell Lee from Nashville, Tenn. are all "Champions for Children" for UNICEF's Change for Good program on American Airlines. Donations they collected from generous customers through the program are directly helping UNICEF to save and improve the lives of children in Belize.
While in Belize, the group observed UNICEF programs and local initiatives that are ensuring child survival. Specifically they saw programs addressing clean water, education and health care. The Champions for Children saw firsthand how UNICEF is working to create "child-friendly schools" in the country's poorest regions.
"It was an incredible experience to see first-hand the good work of UNICEF. Thanks to the organization's efforts, children in Belize are attending school, have access to clean water, and are immunized against preventable diseases," said Chicago-based International Flight Attendant and Champion for Children, Linda Feeney. "This field visit has enhanced my commitment and my passion in changing this world one child at a time through the Change for Good program on American Airlines."
UNICEF's Change for Good program on American Airlines is the company's largest - and one of the longest running - charitable programs, proudly supported by Airline Ambassadors International. The volunteer-based program, which is made up of dedicated flight attendants and Admirals Club employees, empowers American Airlines employees to help make a difference for children while performing everyday work duties. The employee volunteers encourage travelers on select international American Airlines flights to donate unused U.S. and foreign currencies onboard the aircraft, or make donations in Admirals Clubs and Flagship Lounges worldwide. A record-breaking $1.2 million was collected in 2009, more than in any other year of the 15-year history of program.
Registered Champions for Children vote each year to select UNICEF projects funded by a portion of donations collected. This year's selection, Belize, has achieved significant economic growth in recent years, though its progress masks steep economic inequities. Social services for women and children, already perilously thin, face further cuts as the government addresses a staggering national debt. Although Belize is considered an upper-middle income country, wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, leaving 33 percent of the population in poverty.
Belize also has the highest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in Central America. Many people avoid testing because those diagnosed with the virus are typically shunned and marginalized. Girls and young women are especially vulnerable to the disease. Additionally, the majority of rural households lack adequate sanitation. Without access to clean water, children are more likely to suffer from water borne illnesses.
Since 1994, American Airlines has proudly partnered with UNICEF to help save children's lives in more than 150 countries through the Change for Good® program. To learn more about the Change for Good program on American Airlines and how you can help, visit www.unicefusa.org/changeforgood. For more information about Airline Ambassadors International, visit www.airlineambassadors.org.
UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization in the world. Working in over 150 countries, UNICEF provides children with health care, clean water, nutrition, education, emergency relief, and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF's work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States.
UNICEF is at the forefront of efforts to reduce child mortality worldwide. There has been substantial progress—the annual number of under-five deaths dropped from 13 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008. But still, 24,000 children die each day from preventable causes. Our mission is to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.
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SOURCE U.S. Fund for UNICEF