By LISA GOODMAN

Did you know that one in seven girls in developing countries are married by the time they are fifteen? Many of these girls do not have the opportunity to go to school, get medical care for themselves or their children; or even live their lives without the fear of violence. These are some of the reasons why the United Nations Foundation’s Girl Up campaign aims to improve the lives of adolescent girls who are in need around the world.

IndyKids sat down with three of the seventeen United Nations Foundation’s global Teen Advisors, to find out more about the Girl Up campaign and what American kids can do to help.

UNITED NATIONS FOUNDATION
PHOTO: United Nations Foundation

Sydney Medina, Age 10, Princeton Junction, New Jersey

IndyKids:  How did you become involved with Girl Up?

Sydney Medina: Our mom works for Nickelodeon and she came home from work one day and said that Elizabeth Gore of the UN Foundation came to her job and was talking about a new campaign where American girls could help girls in disadvantaged countries. It was called Girl Up. She thought we’d be interested and we were.

Why do you think it’s important?

Girl Up is important because it is a way for girls to help girls.

What is your role with Girl Up and within your local community?

Teen Advisors also educate people in their community about the goals of Girl Up and we try to get more girls and boys involved. Jillian and I are getting together our friends who are interested in Girl Up and starting a club in our town.

What have your experiences with the Girl Up campaign taught you about the issues facing girls around the world today?

I’ve learned that I can make a difference. Jillian and I hosted a Girlraiser for our 10th birthday and raised $3,100 for Girl Up. I’ve learned that little steps make big steps.

How can kids get involved?

You can also host your own Girlraiser like we did for our birthday. A Girlraiser is a fundraiser you can organize to support Girl Up. You can get suggestions on how to host one if you visit www.girlup.org.

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UNITED NATIONS FOUNDATION
PHOTO: United Nations Foundation

Jillian Medina, Age 10, Princeton Junction, New Jersey

IndyKids: How did you become involved with Girl Up?

Jillian Medina: When I was in kindergarten I told my teacher that I wanted to be a humanitarian when I grew up. My parents told me that I didn’t have to be an adult to be a humanitarian, I could be one now.

Why do you think it’s important?

I think that people all over the world should learn to be better citizens in their communities by giving back to people who are less fortunate.

What is your role with Girl Up and within your local community?

I work as one of 17 Teen Advisors with the campaign and I give my thoughts on possible improvements on the campaign to the United Nations Foundation.

What have your experiences with the Girl Up campaign taught you about the issues facing girls around the world today?

My experiences with the Girl Up campaign have taught me that American girls are very fortunate compared to other girls in the developing world who do not have equivalent privileges. We should try to strive through this worldwide dilemma by being a voice for girls around the world who do not have one. Young girls are really fascinated by our campaign and the work we’ve accomplished and they are very eager to help out an do their part in building a strong campaign.

How can kids get involved?

Go to www.girlup.org. You can give a High Five to a girl in a developing country. You can give $5 to UN Foundation programs that support girls or you can learn 5 facts about the problems girls in developing countries face or you can send the “Girlafesto” to 5 friends. By giving a High Five you can make a big difference in a girl’s life.

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IndyKids- GirlUp-Bridget
PHOTO: United Nations Foundation

Bridget Duru, Age 13, Montgomery Village, Maryland

IndyKids: How did you become involved in Girl Up?

Bridget Duru: My mom is originally from Tanzania. She works for the United Nations Foundation so when she told me about the campaign I went on the website, and was immediately interested. I called the campaign director asking what I could do to help. She asked me to interview adolescent girls at the orphanage in Tanzania I was visiting that summer. While I was interviewing the girls, I noticed that they have the same dreams and goals as my friends and I, but it’s harder for them to reach those because some of them weren’t even in school because the orphanage couldn’t afford the tuition fee.

Why do you think it’s important?

It’s important for us to help these girls because if we educate them and keep them safe and healthy, they can become leaders in their own communities and it can create a global effect! Also, people often take what they have for granted and to see what these girls go through is very heart-breaking and knowing that as little as $5 can keep them in school is awesome! If we were in their position, we would want someone else to help us, so why not help them?

What is your role with Girl Up and within your local community?

There are 17 Teen Advisors in the USA and our roles in our communities is to raise awareness and funds for the Girl Up campaign. We also advise the Girl Up staff since it is a “for girls, by girls” campaign and they want to know what will get American girls to support the campaign, so what better way to ask American girls?

What have your experiences with the Girl Up campaign taught you about the issues facing girls around the world today?

It’s taught me how fortunate we are and how easy it is to help these girls. Girl Up helps girls go to school, and if they are in school, there is a greater chance that they won’t get married so young, and if they don’t get married so young, they won’t have kids as early, and if they don’t have kids so early, they will have less health problems.

How can kids get involved?

There are many ways kids (girls and boys) can get involved with Girl Up!

One way is giving a ‘High Five’! There are 5 steps to completing a ‘High Five’.

1) The first step is taking 5 minutes to learn about the issues facing girls in the developing countries.

2) The next step is sharing 5 facts on a social networking site.

3) The third step is sending Girl Up ‘Girlafesto’ to five friends/family and ask them to join you in supporting Girl Up!

4) The next step is giving a donation of $5 or more to provide girls in developing countries with school supplies, health check-ups, etc.

5) The last step is conducting a Girl Up fundraiser and challenging five friends to see who can make the most money!

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Note: This is an expanded version of an article that first appeared in the March/April 2011 issue.