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In a viral and hilariously maddening tweet, Neil deGrasse Tyson recently informed millions of disappointed revelers that New Year's Day, i.e. Jan. 1, is an astronomically insignificant event.

In other words, it doesn't mark any sort of cosmic milestone and might as well just be a random date on the calendar.


(He does it every year. And every year, it annoys everyone who just wants to have a good time.)

To most of us, the new year is a moment of huge significance. It symbolizes a fresh start and hope for a better world, however arbitrary it may be. And that might explain our fascination with babies who are born at or very close to midnight on New Year's Eve.

According to UNICEF, 2018's first baby is a girl from Fiji named Vilisi.

She was born healthy and happy after about six hours of labor, and weighed just over 7 pounds at birth. She joins around 386,000 other babies around the world who were also born on Jan. 1, but she managed to edge them all out to claim the title of "year's first baby."

On top of that, she's already ready for her close-up. Get to know baby Vilisi in the heartwarming video below:

Welcoming the first baby of 2018!

We'd like to wish health and happiness for Joana Sovocala and her daughter Vilisi, the first baby of 2018! Wait for those little sneezes at the end! (w/ UNICEF)

Posted by Upworthy on Thursday, January 4, 2018

It's staggering to think about the hundreds of thousands of new babies joining the world each day. The new year is a perfect time to think about how we can make that world a better and safer place for them.

According to UNICEF, last year over 2,600 newborns per day didn't live past their first 24 hours, with the majority of those deaths being entirely preventable. With medicine and technology as advanced as they are, that's a number that has to change.

The World Health Organization writes that one of the most critical issues is simply a lack of care, with new moms and babies not having access to skilled doctors and nurses that could treat common issues like basic infections or pneumonia.

The good news? Campaigns are underway to bring better and more affordable care to parts of the world. Little Vilisi, aside from becoming a viral superstar, is healthy and thriving. Every kid deserves that chance.

If you want to learn more about how you can support those efforts, start here.

Heroes

How a year of storms and drought has changed one child's education.

Many kids in Pacific countries lack access to one of our most basic necessities: clean water.

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Gates Foundation

When I think of the third grade, I think of a classroom. Chairs, desks ... a blackboard, of course. A backpack, pencils, paper.

John's in the third grade too, and he's got all that — plus a bunch of classmates, what seems to be a pretty nice teacher, and access to his natural world.



All GIFs from UNICEF/YouTube.


But there's one school supply that's missing: water.

"We can't get enough water at school," John says in a new video from UNICEF. "I feel like I have more energy when there is water."

Why does John lack access to the most basic of human needs?

His country, Vanuatu, is facing a bad water shortage. Vanuatu normally gets plenty of water from rainfall, but this year a big El Niño — warm ocean waters than can affect global weather — meant that July, August, and September were much drier than usual.

That big spike of warm water off South America means less rain for Vanuatu. Image from Maulucioni/Wikimedia Commons.

The island depends on that rain to recharge its water supply. Now there isn't enough drinking water to go around.

This has caused a lot of kids to become malnourished or sick. Many can't go to school. There have even been cases of children fainting during lessons.

But it's a hard problem to fix when you're still rebuilding after a cyclone.

In March 2015, Cyclone Pam hit Vanuatu, killing about a dozen people and devastating local infrastructure. Two-thirds of the country's rainwater harvesters were destroyed.

The aftermath of Cyclone Pam. Image from Julie Lyn/Flickr.

"Many community members are now being forced to walk long distances to reach dwindling alternative water supplies,"said Sune Gudnitz, who coordinates humanitarian affairs for the UN in the Pacific.

Children like John are the ones who suffer most during crises.

"I am very afraid," he says, "that food and water will not be enough for me and my family." John has to use a cup whenever he wants a drink — he can't afford to spill any.

Malnutrition hits kids especially hard, compared to adults. Disease and overheating too. They need food and clean drinking water in order to stay healthy and grow.

Kids across the Pacific are in similar situations.

Many other island nations, such as Kiribati, are also facing water crises. Climate change is predicted to increase sea levels and cause more severe storms, which can damage fragile infrastructure and pollute limited freshwater supplies.

Though the link is still being studied, there is evidence that climate change can also cause more intense episodes of El Niño, which could starve more Pacific nations like Vanuatu of rainfall.

This all spells danger for kids in the future.

"We are hurtling towards a future where the gains being made for the world's children are threatened and their health, wellbeing, livelihoods and survival are compromised ... despite being the least responsible for the causes,"said David Bull, UNICEF's U.K. executive director. "We need to listen to them."

We get to decide the future for John and kids like him.

How will the kids living there now see the world that we're leaving them? John's picture of the future is a lot different than mine was at his age.


"When I grow up, I want to be rich," John says. "I want to be rich so that I can buy food and I will still have some money left."

We can still help. Disaster aid and planning can help head off the worst of climate change's effects, and we can reduce climate change itself through smarter, dedicated action.

Watch John's full video from UNICEF below.

If you want to help change the future but aren't sure how to start, you can help spread the word about health and poverty issues affecting children worldwide by checking out UNICEF's #FightUnfair campaign.

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Unilever and the United Nations

Katy Perry is a proud California girl. So when it comes to climate change, she gets it.

After all, she can see the effects of global warming in her own backyard. If you hadn't heard, climate change has made the drought in the Golden State much, much worse.


To highlight how important it is that we act now, Perry swapped her stage costumes for a pantsuit and got real about global warming.

She hasn't quit her day job, but Perry — a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2013 — did successfully pull off the role of "meteorologist" in a short video for the humanitarian group, seen below.

Her goal? To point out how climate change will affect families and children around the world.

Because, beyond California, increasingly warmer temperatures have wreaked havoc in poorer countries — areas that studies have shown will be hit hardest by a warming planet.

Areas like the Pacific Islands, where hurricanes have gotten worse.

And in South Asia where horrible floods have dispersed millions.

Not to mention hotter temperatures in East Africa mean increased risk of malaria (which kills 800 children every day).

And unfortunately, even if we act now, these places won't see relief overnight.

Our reliance on fossil fuels means, at least in the near future, the forecast looks bleak.

“It's always children who are first to suffer from [global warming's] impact," Perry warns in the video.

But ... why does climate change generally affect people in, say, the Philippines, more severely than in the U.S.?

Well, for one, underdeveloped regions happen to be in areas that are expected to see "stronger cyclones, warmer days and nights, more unpredictable rains, and larger and longer heatwaves," as The Guardian reported, citing a 2013 study by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

But beyond simply getting hit hardest, poor countries also lack the infrastructure to successfully handle increasingly severe storms, disastrous floods, and rising sea levels.

They'll need to invest billions of dollars more to prepare for the worst of what climate change has in-store.

But here's the thing: We can avoid the worst of it. And there are plenty of reasons to believe we will.

World leaders are coming together to cut way back on carbon emissions, President Obama's administration is aiming to prioritize clean power over dirty energy, and organizations like UNICEF (with a little help from Ms. Perry) are helping those most impacted by a changing climate.

I'm very hopeful my grandkids will live in a green world, and you should be, too.

You can make sure your voice is heard by signing this petition to demand climate action at the Paris Climate Summit.

Check out Perry's video for UNICEF below:

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You've heard this song. Have you ever really tried to imagine it?

It's been over 40 years since John Lennon released 'Imagine.' It upset people. It made them think.

"Imagine" is a global anthem.

Jimmy Carter reported, "[I]n many countries around the world — my wife and I have visited about 125 countries — you hear John Lennon's song 'Imagine' used almost equally with national anthems."

And now, it's a global project.

"The Convention on the Rights of the Child asked us all to imagine a better world for children — and calls on all of us to make that vision a reality," said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. "The #IMAGINE project gives people across the globe a chance to join a global movement for children, lending their ideas, their visions and, not least, their voices to advance the rights of every child, everywhere."


UNICEF wants you (yes, you) to record your own cover of "Imagine."

They're trying to create the world's largest sing-along and remind people that the world John Lennon imagined is not impossible.

Here are two of my favorites covers that people have done already.

Some adorable kids in Ukraine:

An astronaut in space:

Check out their official site for more!