BELIZE CITY, Belize, 23 November 2020 – UNICEF Belize has appointed 24-year-old youth activist Renata Samuels from Belize as a UNICEF National Youth Advocate. The appointment comes as UNICEF commemorates World Children’s Day on November 20, under the theme “Reimagining our future”. In her new role, Renata will support UNICEF's work in Belize to advance children's rights, promote young people's participation in the decision-making process and mobilize others to make younger voices heard.
“If my life were a map it would be safe to say my compass would be pointing north, towards a better future for myself, my family, and Belize.”
Renata's contribution to youth activism and advocacy has been remarkable, in particular regarding mental health. In 2018, she supported UNICEF and the Ministry of Health in carrying out one of the first mental health studies in Belize called “Helping Adolescents Thrive” (HAT), and presented the study’s findings in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2019, she facilitated a series of focus groups countrywide and later helped revamp the National Youth Policy of Belize. More recently, she was featured in a UNICEF’s signature video for World Children's Day and World Mental Health Day to fight stigma around mental health and call for governments to invest in this underfunded global issue.
“To me, being a UNICEF Youth Advocate means being able to be an instrument for my country,” says Renata. “I expect this role to get me in rooms with decisions makers and allow me to shed light on issues they might not be aware so that a changed perspective and more conscious actions are possible,” she adds.
As part of her work with and for youth, Renata has held positions in the National Youth Council of Belize and the Belize District Youth Council. Today she uses her social media accounts to inform peers on mental health issues and advocate for youth to be part of the solution. It gives me great pleasure to welcome Renata Samuels to the UNICEF family today,” said UNICEF Belize Representative, Alison Parker. “Renata’s already demonstrated commitment to advancing the rights of children, adolescents and young people will be a compelling and valuable asset. At UNICEF, we believe that investing in the wellbeing, health, education and protection of children today, is key to the continued development and prosperity of Belize.”
Renata joins hundreds of UNICEF Youth Advocates around the world who are using their talents and passion to promote the rights of children, wherever they are and wherever they come from. From Buenos Aires to Belize, New York to Nairobi, children and young people are taking over in support of child rights.
World Children’s Day is UNICEF’s global day of action for children, by children, marking the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) on November 20. On this day, UNICEF advocates and raises awareness for the most pressing issues facing children. This year, World Children’s Day takes place during one of the most unique and challenging moments in our history as the COVID-19 pandemic, and its socio-economic upheaval, impacts the lives of children everywhere. UNICEF remains on the front line, delivering for every child.
“My wish for the children and young people of Belize is that they never give up hope and continue to voice their opinions,” concludes Renata. “I wish they have the courage to ask the hard questions regardless of who is answering and always push to learn more. Most importantly, I hope they make the world their playground because we are not the future, we are the now. We must own and harness our power to make the change we want to see.”