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USA: UNICEF responds to Hurricane Katrina with much needed education and recreational supplies for child evacuees

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2005 Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF campaign to help Hurricane Katrina relief efforts

NEW YORK (September 10, 2005) - Recognizing that Hurricane Katrina left hundreds of thousands of school-age child evacuees without classrooms and school supplies at the start of the traditional U.S. school term, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF has begun coordinating the delivery of UNICEF "School-in-a-Box" kits to several aid partners assisting the displaced population.

Additionally, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF announced today that for the first time ever, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF will help raise funds for American children, with 50 percent of the proceeds benefiting UNICEF's Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. Millions of Americans have supported UNICEF in providing emergency services, relief and counseling to children around the world, most recently after the tsunami struck south Asia. Now, through this 55-year old program, UNICEF is encouraging American children to help raise funds for other American children who were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Since its inception in 1950, Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF has raised over $127 million to fund UNICEF's lifesaving work for the world's poorest and most vulnerable children.

Some 235 "School-in-a-Box" kits have been shipped from UNICEF's global supply hub in Copenhagen, Denmark, arriving today in Little Rock, Arkansas. Each kit will supply approximately 80 children with basic supplies for education. Additionally, some 740 "Recreation-in-a-Box" kits are also being loaded and shipped for immediate distribution.

"In times of disaster, getting children back to a learning environment is one of the most effective ways of helping them to feel safe, cope with trauma and begin their emotional healing," said President of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF Charles J. Lyons. "Whether in Biloxi, Mississippi or Banda Aceh, Indonesia, having a safe, nurturing and stimulating environment for learning, sharing and recreation will go a long way towards helping children recover and cope with the trauma and transition imposed by a natural disaster."

So important is education in helping children recover from a harrowing disaster, that UNICEF keeps prepackaged "School-in-a-Box" kits and "Recreation-in-a-Box" kits on hand to send to emergency zones all over the world. The contents provide recreation and educational tools to supply a classroom with enough materials for 80 children and can be immediately used in tents, shelters, churches or schools.

Throughout the ongoing relief efforts, the U.S. Fund for UNICEF is partnering with Christian Children's Fund, Church World Service, Lions Clubs International, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the United Parcel Service to deliver the much needed supplies.

The "School-in-a-Box" has been used by UNICEF since the mid-1990s. The "School-in-a-Box" was developed by education experts from UNICEF and UNESCO to provide basic education to hundreds of thousands of children in refugee camps who had been displaced by the events in Rwanda in 1994. The concept is simple: school supplies and materials for up to 80 students (in double-shift classes of 40), plus supplies for the teacher, are delivered in a locked box which can double as a blackboard when coated with the special paint included in the kit. In addition to the basic school supplies, such as exercise books, pencils, erasers and scissors, the kit also includes a wooden teaching clock, plastic cubes for counting and a set of three laminated posters (alphabet, multiplication and number tables). Using a locally developed teaching guide and curriculum, teachers can establish makeshift classrooms almost anywhere, thus ensuring the child's right to education, no matter how unstable the situation.

The "Recreation-in-a-Box" kit is a recent development, created as a result of experience gained during several emergencies. The UNICEF Supply Division has always stocked a wide range of items for physical education, but it is now more widely appreciated that sport is an effective trauma therapy for children displaced by war and natural disasters. The kit is suitable for up to 90 children, who can participate in team sports and games under the guidance of a teacher. It includes balls for several types of games, colored tunics for different teams, chalk and a measuring tape for marking play areas and a whistle and scoring slate. The composition of this kit is specific to regional and cultural differences in children's sports activities and games.

UNICEF shares people's concern about the physical and emotional welfare of children affected by Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of children have literally seen their lives washed away - they have lost homes, schools, communities, and with that, their sense of security, normalcy and well-being. Many children have witnessed a breakdown of the very structures that are designed to protect and sustain them and have been witnesses to unprecedented scenes of destruction.

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF boxes can be ordered now by calling 1.800.4UNICEF or by logging on to www.unicefusa.org.

UNICEF operates health, education and protection programs for the world's poorest children in 157 developing countries, at the invitation of those governments. In the United States and other industrialized nations, UNICEF does not operate such programs, instead engaging in advocacy and fundraising efforts in support of UNICEF's mission for children worldwide. However, the extraordinary nature of the Hurricane Katrina emergency demands that all of us play a role in responding, and UNICEF will contribute its best to the recovery effort.

UNICEF's universal mandate is to ensure the fundamental survival, protection and well-being of children, regardless of race, religion, geography, gender or politics.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Marissa Buckanoff, U.S. Fund for UNICEF Media, 212.922.2485
Kiní Schoop, U.S. Fund for UNICEF Media, 212.880.9132
Lisa Szarkowski, U.S. Fund for UNICEF Media, 212.922.2643