UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Leo Messi today invited his friends and fans around the world to join in celebrating the birthday of his son Thiago, who will be one year old on Saturday, 2 November.

“Last November I received the best gift ever: the birth of Thiago. For his first birthday, help me to help all boys and girls have equal opportunities to live, grow and develop,” said Messi in his call to action. “Thanks for joining and participating.”

UNICEF has created a web application called Leo Messi and Thiago celebrate life, which will be available until November 4. Through this application, everyone can join Leo’s commitment to help children of the world grow up with the same kind of opportunities.

Messi said seeing his child grow has increased his commitment to helping to ensure that all children have access to adequate food, immunization against diseases, clean water, and quality education.

The Argentina national football (soccer) team captain and FC Barcelona star believes that the best gift you can give to your child is helping to spread the message about the challenges millions of children face just to reach their first birthday.

The goal of the “Leo and Thiago celebrate life” campaign is to raise awareness about the importance of giving all children equal opportunities to survive, with a particular emphasis on equity – to put the most disadvantaged children first.

Although infant mortality has fallen dramatically in the last decades, from 12 million in 1990 to 6.6 million in 2012, currently 18,000 children under 5 still die each day for reasons that are largely treatable and preventable.

Visitors to www.unicef.org/messithiago can get information about the initiative and become UNICEF champions, sharing the link with as many friends as possible through social networks.

Those who spread the most messages can win a pair of cleats used and autographed by Messi himself as well as a signed shirt.

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