UNICEF Channels the Force & Kid Power to Feed Malnourished Children
UNICEF is harnessing the Force in a two-pronged battle against obesity and malnutrition. The U.S. arm of the United Nation’s organization is using Star Wars as part of the UNICEF Kid Power mobile campaign’s theme. UNICEF claims to have created the first Wearable-for-Good (it even trademarked the term).
Star Wars appears on some of the bands and characters and actors from the sci-fi series play a role along with athletes and artists in the program, which aims to activate kids in the U.S. while helping better nourish children in other countries.
The fitness tracker syncs with a free app on late model mobile devices running recent versions of Android and iOS. 11 million Kid Power points have already been redeemed, unlocking millions of packets of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food.
Rajesh Anandan, senior vice president of strategic partnerships and UNICEF Ventures at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF shared insights about the fitness tracker and mobile efforts to improve children’s health with Open Mobile Media’s Robert Gray.
OMM: What’s the genesis of the program?
Anandan: The U.S. Fund for UNICEF has a long history of promoting global citizenship. More than 65 years ago Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF was introduced as a way for children in the U.S. to help their peers around the world.
Based on the learnings from several generations of kids trick-or-treating for UNICEF, and built on the insight that helping others fulfills a deep desire kids have to feel significant and important, the U.S. Fund launched UNICEF Kid Power in 2014.
Two facts about malnutrition and physical inactivity inspired the creation of Kid Power: We know 1 in 4 kids globally is malnourished and 1 in 4 kids in the U.S. is inactive. UNICEF Kid Power aims to address both of these crises with a single solution. By tapping into kids’ intrinsic desire to do good and inspiring them to get active, Kid Power uniquely utilizes purpose as a motivator to sustain children’s healthy habits.
OMM: What’s the campaign’s goal?
Anandan: UNICEF Kid Power has seen substantial growth over the past year. Our goal this year is to get ten million people active and saving lives of one million malnourished children in the next five years.
OMM: Is Kid Power related to the UNICEF Wearables for Good campaign?
Anandan: UNICEF Kid Power is the world’s first Wearable-for-Good®, developed to connect activity (getting active and earning points) to impact (unlocking therapeutic food packets and saving lives). The “good” part of Kid Power is not a time-bound promotion or special offer, but integrated into every aspect of the product design and experience. The UNICEF Kid Power platform is defining a new way for kids to interact with technology while promoting activity and minimizing screen-time.
A year after UNICEF Kid Power was rolled out, UNICEF’s Innovation Unit, ARM, and frog launched the Wearables-for-Good challenge to encourage social innovators to design wearables and sensor technology that serves those in resource constrained environments. While not related to the Wearable for Good campaign – UNICEF Kid Power aligns closely with the challenge’s goal of leveraging technology and innovation to create change.
OMM: What’s the role of LucasFilm and Walt Disney Co. in the campaign?
Anandan: We’re thrilled to be partnering with Star Wars: Force for Change, a charitable initiative from LucasFilm and Disney that harnesses the power of Star Wars to inspire people to come together to make a positive impact on the world around them.
Star Wars: Force for Change is a Presenting Sponsor of UNICEF Kid Power, and thanks to our partnership, Star Wars fans of all ages have been inspired to get active and save lives, and UNICEF has been able to deliver therapeutic food packets to more than 31,000 children in Uganda, Haiti, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, Rwanda and Madagascar.
UNICEF Kid Power Team Members can now buy Star Wars: Force for Change themed UNICEF Kid Power Bands in black and green, and join Ashley Eckstein, voice of Ahsoka on Star Wars Rebels on a special Mission.
OMM: How does the program work?
Anandan: UNICEF Kid Power gives kids the power to save lives. By getting active with the UNICEF Kid Power Band, kids go on Missions to learn about new cultures and earn points. Points unlock funding from partners, parents and fans, and funds are used by UNICEF to deliver lifesaving packets of therapeutic food to severely malnourished children around the world.
The more kids move, the more points they earn, the more lives they save. Families can join by purchasing a Kid Power Band at Target and downloading the free companion app. Schools can join by either applying online for our grant-funded program (for high-need schools) or purchasing a UNICEF Kid Power School kit, consisting of easy-to-use technology and standards-based curriculum. And soon, companies will be able to join by signing up for UNICEF Kid Power Workplace, our platform for running turnkey, 30-day employee fitness challenges.
To date, more than 180,000 members have joined the UNICEF Kid Power Team, all doing their part to end global malnutrition.
OMM: And what’s Target’s role?
Anandan: We’re thankful that Target came on as a Presenting Sponsor, and supported the retail launch of UNICEF Kid Power Bands – first online in November 2015, then in all Target stores in May 2016 – allowing families everywhere to get active and save lives together.
Target also supports the UNICEF Kid Power school program, providing grant funding so high-need schools can participate at no cost.
OMM: How does the program’s funding work?
Anandan: For families participating in UNICEF Kid Power, $10 from the purchase of each UNICEF Kid Power Band and other contributions go directly to the U.S. Fund for UNICEF to support UNICEF Kid Power program development.
OMM: Who created the band and which one is most popular?
Anandan: The U.S. Fund for UNICEF partnered with renowned San Francisco-based design studio Ammunition on the industrial design and packaging of the UNICEF Kid Power Band.
It was made to be kid-friendly, meaning safe, durable, easy-to-wear and fun.
Bands are available in two Star Wars: Force for Changecolors– black and green, along with UNICEF blue and Kid Power orange. To date, blue bands have been highly popular –and they’re also the bands that kids use in the school program.
OMM: How does the band’s technology work with no buttons? And do all models have the same features/functions?
Anandan: The UNICEF Kid Power Band has a touch-sensitive display. Just tap the screen while wearing the Kid Power Band to move between the screens.
Each time a kid earns a point, the band vibrates and an encouraging message scrolls across the band display.
Each time the band is synced with the App, the cumulative points earned and therapeutic food packets unlocked are updated in the App. Achievement of point and packet goals are celebrated through exclusive content, digital rewards and video messages from members of the UNICEF Kid Power Team.
OMM: What does it track and are users able to access all of the data on the app?
Anandan: The UNICEF Kid Power Band is part pedometer, part accelerometer, measuring activity, steps and points. The UNICEF Kid Power App is necessary to convert activity to impact. The App is where points earned by kids getting active can unlock therapeutic food packets to save lives. Users need to sync at least every 30 days in order to register their activity and convert their points to lifesaving packets of therapeutic food with the app.
OMM: How do you assure parents that there is no tracking on the device?
Anandan: UNICEF Kid Power Bands are COPA compliant and TRUSTe certified. In fact, we go beyond the required security measures to ensure that privacy is protected. The Bands do not track any location data, at any time.
OMM: What has been the reception by consumers?
Anandan: Working together, the UNICEF Kid Power Team has already earned more than 11 million Kid Power points and unlocked millions of packets of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food. Thanks to Kid Power, UNICEF has already delivered full courses of treatment to over 31,000 severely malnourished children around the globe.