New UNICEF initiative enables children around the world to share stories online

7 December 2007 –

Young people from around the world will be able to record and share their stories online in various languages thanks to a new project launched today by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), technology giant Google and the non-profit organization One Laptop per Child.

Children will be able to record stories about themselves, their families and friends in their own languages using laptops, mobile phones and other recording devices. The stories can be shared through the “Our Stories” website – www.ourstories.org – where they can be found on a Google Map.

By making these stories accessible around the world, the Our Stories project seeks to promote understanding of different countries, cultures, religious traditions and languages, organizers said.

“Information technologies can help young people around the world learn more about each other,” said UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman. “Our Stories will promote dialogue across borders and cultures and give young people a voice on a wide range of issues.”

One Laptop per Child will provide children in developing countries with easy-to-use, low-cost XO laptops to record their stories. “The XO laptop is a tool for sharing and collaboration and this project is a great way to build a global community,” said Walter Bender, President of Software and Content/COO, One Laptop per Child.

The Our Stories website will initially include stories collected by Brazil’s Museum of the Person and stories recorded for UNICEF by young people in Ghana, Pakistan, Tanzania and Uganda. More stories from around the world will be added to the site every month.

Elliot Schrage, Vice President of Global Communications and Public Affairs for Google, hailed the new project, which he hoped “will not just encourage better storytelling but better listening to stories.”

Among leading figures that have already lent their voices to the project are Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan and Ishmael Beah, UNICEF Advocate for Children Affected by War and best-selling author, who have all recorded messages welcoming users to the site and encouraging them to share their stories.

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