Unicef USA’s CEO and President Caryl Stern is passionate about today’s youth. JBN’s May 17,2017, guest speaker is a mother herself but perhaps more importantly she knows firsthand about the difference one person can make. Her mother escaped by ship from war-torn Europe at age 6 with a sibling. Onboard they were entrusted to the care of a woman they didn’t know and never saw again upon landing in NY. Her grandfather too narrowly escaped. He was a passenger on the infamous SS St Louis, a liner with 937 passengers that was turned away from safe harbor in Cuba and the US. He ended at a POW camp in London before making his way to America two years later. “My family was lucky, they survived. I learned very early about what happens when the world turns its back and vowed to do better” said Stern.
Stern is an activist, author, change maker and head of an organization whose goal is to put endangered children first. Most of us remember the iconic orange boxes we carried at Halloween. Monies raised in that program and during the charities 70 year history, have been used to fund programs that save kids lives around the world. The latest initiative, Kids Power, has the same goal but has been updated with kid-friendly technology. “We want to engage youngsters in a way that appeals to them. We found that one in four children are not as active as they should be. Statistics show that 16,000 children a day are dying from malnutrition and other conditions that could be prevented. We thought maybe the former could combat the latter and by combining the two we could solve both” Stern explained.
Here’s how Kids Power, now in its first year, works. Children are rewarded with a point for every 2,500 steps they take. A fitness band or downloadable app tracks their movement. When they earn 10 points a packet of therapeutic food is sent where around the globe it is most needed. Therapeutic food is easy to ship, doesn't require refrigeration and stays fresh for up to two years. Best of all, no mixing with potentially contaminated water is required. The program is being underwritten in part by Target and Lucas Films. Already 175,000 school kids are participating. Teachers are raving about Kids Power and 40,000 packets of food have been delivered to starving kids. Stern says, “We believe if we save one life we save the world. I think of my family. During the Holocaust many claimed they didn’t know what was happening. We know the state of the world’s kids today and where are we? That’s the question each of us has to ask ourselves”.
Stern is a dynamo and in-demand speaker. She was invited to present at the White House’s inaugural summit on The United State of Women and has been named one of the “20 Most Influential Moms of 2017” by Family Circle, “25 Moms We Love” by Working Mother Magazine and “Ten Women to Watch” by Jewish Women International.
Stern serves on the Board of Directors of The Container Store and the We Are Family Foundation, the Advisory Board to the WNBA and the Advisory Council of the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Prior to joining the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Stern was an executive at the Anti-Defamation League, the founding director of its A WORLD OF DIFFERENCE® Institute, and the Dean of Students at Polytechnic Institute.
Hear all about Kid Power and other Unicef initiatives during JBN’s May luncheon at Temple Center City Campus. For more information or to by tickets www.jhp.org