UNICEF Supporter Sofia Carson traveled with UNICEF USA to Recife, Brazil this week to promote the rights and well-being of every child.

During her visit, Carson met with children and their families and learned about the impactful work UNICEF is doing in the areas of education, girls empowerment and early childhood development. The trip fell on the eve of World Refugee Day, a day to remember that children, no matter their status, are children first.

During her visit, Carson, who is best known for her iconic role in The Descendants franchise and Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists, met with adolescents at COMPAZ, a community center in the heart of Recife. The center, a partner of UNICEF Brazil, focuses on keeping children and teens off the streets and provides a space for peace, inclusion and education. Carson was greeted with a vibrant dance performance from the children who call COMPAZ “a second home.”

“It is my immense honor to be in Brazil with UNICEF to do all I can to contribute to their lifesaving work to end violence against women and children here in Recife,” said Carson.

To tackle multiple issues such as sexual violence against women, gender inequality and early motherhood that decrease adolescent girls’ possibilities to finish their education, UNICEF Brazil has implemented a program entitled Empodera – Today Girls, Tomorrow Women. The project is committed to the economic and social empowerment of girls and adolescents to promote gender responsive public policies. Young women and men workshopped with Carson about how to continue to empower women for generations to come.

“Today, I bore witness to the lifesaving power of an education,” reflected Carson. “I embraced, I held and I was forever changed by the young women whose lives have been saved thanks to UNICEF and their partners here in Brazil. They are the history making leaders who will fight until the equality of the sexes is an indisputable reality and violence against women and children is obliterated.”

Carson also visited the Altino Ventura Foundation which offers clinical assistance and emergency services to low-income patients. The work centers around treating children and their families who have been impacted by the Zika virus. Carson met with doctors, volunteers, patients and parents and was moved to tears by the resilience of the children and the passion of the doctors.

To see the important work that UNICEF is doing in education, Carson traveled to Panelas, Brazil, which is 200 kilometers west of Recife. She met with a group of adolescents who participate in a program called NUCA. NUCA focuses on the importance of keeping kids in school and engaged in the arts. Carson sang, danced, listened and shared stories with this group of students.

On World Refugee Day, UNICEF USA and Carson are encouraging people to remember that every child should be afforded an opportunity at a bright and happy future.

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