UNICEF: New virtual reality storytelling platform lets Canadians see firsthand how they're saving children's lives with Survival Gifts

Canadians generosity purchased 39,217 life-saving gifts, totalling more than $1.7 million in 2014

TORONTO, Nov. 4, 2015 /CNW/ - In a move to inspire and motivate Canadian donors in their generous support of children through the organization's Survival Gifts program, UNICEF today launches an immersive storytelling series called UNICEF 360°. A Canadian first in the non-profit realm, UNICEF 360° is a film series that aims to transport donors into the lives of some of the most vulnerable children across the globe – using the power of virtual reality. It gives Canadian donors a chance to see their life-saving and life-changing Survival Gifts at work in the field.

Made accessible and affordable through a simple cardboard virtual reality viewer, the viewer's own smartphone and the virtual reality film content available at www.unicef360.com, this advanced storytelling experience provides a unique, deeply immersive perspective on the daily challenges faced by some of the world's most vulnerable children and their families. For a limited time, when donors purchase a featured Survival Gift, they will receive a free UNICEF 360°virtual-reality viewer.

Canadian generosity continues to save lives

Since the launch of the Survival Gifts program, Canadians have helped save children affected by conflict and health emergencies around the world. With hundreds of millions of children in need of humanitarian assistance from Syria, to the Central African Republic, Yemen and South Sudan, to name a few, the need for life-saving Survival Gifts is at an all-time high. Last year, Canadians generously supported Survival Gifts, through the purchase of 39,217 life-changing gifts, totaling $1,782,970, making a significant difference in the lives of children in some of the world's most dangerous places.

"Canadians continue to provide vital support to children around the world with every purchase of gifts like Plumpy'Nut, bed nets and school supplies," says Sharon Avery, UNICEF Canada's Chief Development Officer. "We're grateful for the generosity shown by Canadians each year, but with each new report that identifies the devastating effects of conflict and humanitarian crises on children's lives, we are made keenly aware of the continuous need for support through donations and gifts."

About UNICEF 360°

"UNICEF 360° is an exciting platform for us, because it gives Canadians a chance to see what we see and help save the lives we save. For the first time ever, Canadian donors will be able to experience what life is like for some of the world's most vulnerable children, and get a deeply engaging and moving first-person perspective on how their donations truly make a difference in the field," says Avery.

The series kicks off with the UN-commissioned "Clouds Over Sidra", an acclaimed virtual reality film that provides a glimpse into the lives of children displaced by the Syrian crises, through a walk in the shoes of Sidra, a 12-year-old Syrian girl currently living in the Za'atari refugee camp in Jordan. The conflict in Syria has left millions of children displaced and in need – and it's with many of the items that Canadians have purchased from the Survival Gifts catalogue that UNICEF is able to provide life-saving supplies and support, including clean water, vaccines, education, psychosocial support, winter supplies and protection, to children and their families caught in the crosshairs of conflict.

This holiday season, UNICEF is calling on Canadians to continue their generous support of the Survival Gifts program to help reach even more children in Syria, and in other locations around the world. Survival Gifts can be bought online at survivalgifts.ca or by phone at 1-888-777-0380.

Survival Gifts most needed in Syria.

  • Emergency Gifts: Five Emergency Blankets to help protect children and families against cold temperatures ($46)
  • Clean Water: 3,741 Water Purification Tablets provides ten families with enough clean drinking water for one year ($29)
  • Education: School Essentials Bundle, provides 60 pencils and 30 exercise books and gives children a chance to learn ($19)

Most popular Survival Gifts with Canadians.

  • Plumpy'Nut – These peanut-based, therapeutic food packs boost a malnourished child's chance of survival. Canadians purchased more than 153,000 packets of Plumpy'Nut in 2014. Each gift is $12 and includes 21 packages of Plumpy'Nut, enough to help save the lives of seven children.
  • Bed Nets—Canadians provided 8,952 bed nets in 2014 keeping children safe from malaria. For only $10, this gift provides two bed nets that help to protect four children from mosquito bites that cause malaria, one of the leading killers of children under age five.
  • Vaccine Pack — Canadians provided 398,520 vaccines in 2014. Each gift is $44 and includes 58 tetanus vaccines, 58 measles vaccines and 58 polio vaccines that will guard against these life-threatening illnesses.

B-roll video and high-resolution photos for Survival Gifts and UNICEF 360° are available here
B-roll video and high-resolution photo resources about the Syrian crisis are available here

Backgrounder about UNICEF 360
° is available here
Fact sheet about UNICEF Survival Gifts and Holiday Gifting Ideas is available here

Fact sheet about UNICEF and the Syrian Crisis is available here

UNICEF has saved more children's lives than any other humanitarian organization. We work tirelessly to help children and their families, doing whatever it takes to ensure children survive. We provide children with healthcare and immunization, clean water, nutrition and food security, education, emergency relief and more.

UNICEF is supported entirely by voluntary donations and helps children regardless of race, religion or politics. As part of the UN, we are active in over 190 countries - more than any other organization. Our determination and our reach are unparalleled. Because nowhere is too far to go to help a child survive. For more information about UNICEF, please visit www.unicef.ca.


Image with caption: "Students raise their hands to answer a teacher's question during summer catch-up classes at the UNICEF tent school in Al Takiya Al Kasnazaniya camp for internally displaced people in Iraq. (CNW Group/UNICEF Canada)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20151104_C4289_PHOTO_EN_536526.jpg

For further information: To arrange interviews or for more information please contact: Tiffany Baggetta, UNICEF Canada, 416-482-6552 ext. 8892, 647-308-4806 (mobile), tbaggetta@unicef.ca


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