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David Beckham gets emotional during U.N. speech to help children

By Wade Sheridan
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David Beckham gets emotional during U.N. speech to help children
Unicef Goodwill Ambassador David Beckham brings voices of children to the United Nations General Assembly. Photo courtesy of Unicef.

NEW YORK, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- International soccer star David Beckham spoke at the U.N. Thursday, holding back tears as he called on world leaders to help improve the lives of children.

The 10-year Unicef Goodwill Ambassador was also joined by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki moon, Unicef Executive Director Anthony Lake and two young representatives from Unicef's Voice of Youth initiative.

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The group was on hand attending the U.N's General Assembly where 17 new Sustainable Development Goals will be approved. Beckham called on those agreeing to the goals to put children at the heart of the new plan.

Beckham, who is married to international pop star and former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham, got emotional during his speech when telling a story that had deeply affected him about a family struggling to survive during a typhoon.

"I met a family in the Philippines - a mother and a father, with two young girls, Venus and Viana - who wanted to tell their story," the 40-year-old said.

"The family were on their roof and the mother tired, scared, exhausted, asked the father to take both girls. A day and a half later Viana was found face down, and she had died. This was one of the most devastating stories I had heard. But then I saw the great work Unicef was doing rebuilding houses, rebuilding families, and rebuilding schools. Rebuilding schools gave Venus and the other children in the village a bit of normality. That story will never leave me," he recalled.

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Beckham was also on hand to introduce the Assembly of Youth, a digital installation created by Unicef and Google that uses social media to deliver personal messages from children and young people across the globe directly to world leaders. The messages highlight the struggles these children face including extreme poverty, inequality, disease and conflict.

"I want a world where children can grow up safe from war, violence, poverty and preventable disease – a world where every child has a fair chance," said Beckham. "I hope everyone will join me in asking world leaders to put children, especially the most disadvantaged, at the heart of the new global goals."

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai also joins Beckham in fighting for children as she will ask world leaders Friday to ensure that every child in the world gets a quality and free 12-year education.

On Tuesday, Colombian pop star and fellow Unicef ambassador Shakira also held a press conference at the U.N. to discuss the importance of providing funding for early childhood development.

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