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June 25th, 2009
10:35 AM ET

Impact Your World: Harlem Children's Zone

New York (CNN) - Students at the Harlem Children's Zone are no strangers to challenges. The teenagers at the renowned not-for-profit school have grown up in some of New York's toughest neighborhoods – neighborhoods troubled by crime, poverty, and disease. But they've been fortunate recipients of help from their community. And now, they want to give back by reaching out to youngsters facing extreme difficulties of their own a continent away in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

120 students joined U.S. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice and members of UNICEF (The United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund) this Monday to kick off President Obama's "United to Serve," a program encouraging Americans to give back to the less fortunate.

Rice told the students that their generation "will have more to do with people in other countries than any other generation in our history." She went on to tell them, "Your success…will depend to a great extent on your ability to work with kids and people in other parts of the world."

The students at the Harlem Children's Zone are doing their part by assisting in the donation of material items to students displaced in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) while learning specifically about the struggles their counterparts face. Tempestt Tucker, a student at the Harlem school, expressed that she and her fellow students wanted "to help them... get rid of diseases and not be hungry."

Ambassador Rice gave the children a rudimentary course on the work done at the United Nations, and explained the current conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where ethnic Hutu and Tutsis have been warring over natural resources and territory. Tens of thousands have been killed and left homeless.

The students were able to sit in an "interactive classroom" to learn about different emergency need items they could select on behalf of their school as donations to refugees in the DRC by UNICEF. The items the students were allowed to vote on include basic family water kits, vaccines, first aid kits, protein biscuits, anti-malaria mosquito nets, and sporting equipment.

Students at the school expressed concern for the situation in the DRC after learning about the death and destruction in the region. lists 47 percent of deaths in the DRC have been children.

"I'll do whatever it takes to help those people because they need help," said Catherine Pabon, said a student at the school.

UNICEF says that it has helped to distribute tens of thousands of plastic sheets, bucket and blankets, and more than one million water purification tablets to displaced people from the DRC.

Harlem's Children Zone began in 1970 as Rheedlen, as the city's first truancy-prevention program. According to the website, Harlem Children's Zone offers innovative efficiently run programs that are aimed at breaking the cycle of generational poverty.

CNN’s Terence Burke and Elisabeth Brubaker

If you would like to choose your own UNICEF inspired gift and learn more about the numerous organizations working to help children in the Democratic Republic of Congo and around the world, please visit Impact Your World.

Filed under: Impact Your World • Tony Harris
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Persia Williams

    YES, Gov. Mark Sanford should resign, not due to the adultry, but for being "AWOL" from his job for 5 days,.It shows poor judgment, poor decision making ,(leaving S.C. without his where-abouts known to the Lt.Gov.), suppose an emergency occured (i.e.prison riot, weather disaster,terrorist attack, an emergency regarding his 4 sons,etc.), during the govenors irresponsible disapearing act? Politicians and, the public would be calling for his resignation! It's obvious Sanford's mistress is more important to him than running South Carolina's goverment, his constiuents.,the country,and his family. If anyone of us went "AWOL" from our jobs so we could carry on an illicit love affair, we would be FIRED ON THE SPOT ! Gov.Sanford should spare S.C., the country, the GOP, and his family further humilation,by resigning!!!

    June 25, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  2. Leeann

    The issue of the extra-marital affair is between Sanford and his wife. But the issue of the office Sanford holds is between him and the people in the state of South Carolina. I have met many people from the state. They are kind, generous and deserve a governor they can depend on. So people of South Carolina go get the governor you deserve. Quick, before the one you got goes missing again.

    June 25, 2009 at 11:50 am |
  3. cathy burton

    memtion her emmy;s she won for the incredible actress she was. Also a winning sculptor/artist. you continue to only talk about charlie's angels which was the smallest of her achievements. Emmy's please and art work. She was an accomplished woman high above most.

    June 25, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  4. Timothy Martin Brandt

    These kids are great so much negaitvity & sadness in this world latley, gives me hope I totally support them in this endeavor im still reeling hearing about Zimbabwee's plight.. TY! kids we are beyond blessed living in the U.S. My prayer's are with you...Timothy Martin Brandt
    SPB/FL P.S. give Tony Harris a raise he's awesome. I am lost without CNN. TY!

    June 25, 2009 at 7:43 pm |
  5. Esther Bondi

    I was amaze to see the help that provided for others. I Esther Bondi strongly believe in "reach out and touch someone." Keep up with the good work, always remember that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. God bless you.

    June 25, 2009 at 11:00 pm |
  6. Judy


    June 26, 2009 at 11:40 am |
  7. Ihendu Okoronkwo Ihendu

    "MJ" it took me 24 hours to realize your death. I still can't believe it! You were born of parents but we all believed you came from an unknown peaceful place as distinct from the earth to teach the earth love and unity with your music. Now that your mission is accomplished in this terrestrial ball, rest in peace in that quiet and lovely and peaceful bossom of the Father of all Creation.

    Ihendu O. Ihendu

    June 26, 2009 at 5:41 pm |

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