While both young and old alike prepare themselves and their property for another ‘spook-tacular’ Halloween evening filled with fun and frights, and all assortments of costumed characters knocking on area doors looking for treats, area residents can also expect visits from other young people who aren’t the least bit interested in candy, but instead, are more concerned about the plight of other young people half a world away as part of the annual United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) campaign to raise funds for children in Third world countries.
“UNICEF approached me a month or two ago and at first, I didn’t recognize the campaign – I recognized UNICEF, but what I recalled from when I was young and at school, they gave us the little orange boxes at Halloween,” said Ryan Correy, Alberta’s athlete ambassador for this year’s campaign. “At first that’s what I thought it was about but then I got to know the program a little bit better and saw that it evolved into a unique, individualistic fundraising opportunity for schools and that’s a lot of what I’ve done in the past. And I thought it was a cool way to help out a good cause and in a sense, to be part of a Canadian tradition.”
Known in certain circles for his prowess on a bicycle, the self-proclaimed adventure cyclist who lives in Bentley said funds raised during the 2009 blitz would be forwarded to school-construction projects in Malawi and Rwanda, Africa.
‘The money from the trick or treat campaign goes to support two countries in Africa. I haven’t been to Africa yet on my bicycle, but I’ve been through several developing countries in central and South America, so I have had some exposure to the benefits this money can do to help build schools and how it effects a community,” Correy said.
In addition to the door-to-door campaign, UNICEF also offers other programs including the Gifts of Magic, which sees donators fund vital items necessary for health, education and transportation. Among them are options such as purchasing a bicycle for a person in a developing country or funding a cow or goats to secure an income for a poor family.
Additionally, those who choose to can also fund a novel idea known as a School in a Suitcase, that features everything necessary to provide an education including pencils, books, paper, a blackboard and other related items.
According to Correy, not only is the campaign of great value to children overseas, but it also lays the groundwork for the future of our youth as well.
“This is a Canadian tradition and now the power has come back more into the kid’s hands to find creative ways to fundraise for this cause, so you have to take into account that they’re not just coming to your door to solicit for funds,” Correy said. “They’ve had to, in part, come up with creative ideas and plans and as a community, I think you should support that development. You’re not just giving them a cheque for a great cause, but you’re also supporting the development of the kids in the community.”
As an elite-level athlete, Correy said it is important to look beyond everyday life and at the big picture, especially how it relates to the younger generations.
“I find that from being an athlete, it’s very easy to become closed off to the world due to being very focused on training and other little intricacies of your daily routine, but supporting a cause like I and others do, is a good way to believe in and see something bigger than yourself and that’s a good, fundamental attribute to instill on the kids today,” he concluded.