UNICEF USA appointed former NBA star Jeremy Lin as its newest ambassador on Friday.
Why this matters: Lin, who currently plays for the Beijing Ducks in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA), will focus on youth mental health in his new role. His appointment came ahead of World Mental Health Day on Sunday.
- Fourteen percent of the world’s children aged 6 to 18 experience a mental health condition, according to UNICEF USA. The crisis has especially worsened amid the COVID-19 pandemic due to the closure of schools and the interruption of necessary services.
- The U.N. agency supports the Mental Health in International Development and Humanitarian Settings (MINDS) Act, which was introduced in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives in June. The bill supports the integration of mental health services in U.S. foreign assistance programs, with a focus on children and the youth.
- Shelley Diamond, chief marketing officer of UNICEF USA, said there has never been a more urgent time for advocates to speak out for children’s rights and needs. “We are incredibly grateful for Jeremy’s support in UNICEF’s vision to reimagine a better world where every child thrives, and we look forward to seeing him continue his journey with the UNICEF family as an Ambassador,” she said in a statement.
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What he’ll be doing: As UNICEF’s latest ambassador, Lin, 33, will use his platform to “champion children’s rights, help to create a more equitable world for every child, and be a voice for change.” The Taiwanese American NBA champion will also work to ensure that no child is discriminated against.
- “I’m honored to take on the role of UNICEF Ambassador,” Lin said in a statement. “UNICEF’s work continues to bring so much light and hope for kids around the world, and I’m committed to doing my part to help break the silence surrounding mental health, addressing stigmas, improving mental health literacy, and ensuring children, young people and people with lived experience have a voice.”
- Lin’s first official duties include representing UNICEF USA at the State of the World’s Children Report Launch event with Congress on Oct. 13 and being a keynote speaker at The Aspen Institute Project Play Summit on Oct. 19-20. Additionally, he will join UNICEF China’s campaign for adolescent mental health and help spread awareness to become “#AStrongerYou.”
- Lin called his appointment an “honor” on social media. “Earlier in my career, all I wanted to do was get buckets and prove people wrong. I still enjoy doing that, but this is so much bigger and more purposeful. UNICEF and I are helping to make children’s mental health and well-being a top priority, during this pandemic and into the future,” he wrote in an Instagram post.
This is not Lin’s first involvement with UNICEF USA. Last year, he donated $150,000 to the agency’s COVID-19 relief efforts, following a donation of 1 million yuan (approximately $143,000) to China’s similar efforts in China via his foundation and another $150,000 from his own pocket.
- The 33-year-old also recently recovered from COVID-19 himself.