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Posted: 2009 12-04


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MaximsNewsNetwork: 03 December 2009 - UNTV - United Nations: Grammy-Award winning songwriter and musician Stevie Wonder is designated a United Nations Messenger of Peace with a special focus on persons with disabilities, who represent one in ten people in the world and 20 percent of the poor in developing countries.
United States singer-songwriter Stevie Wonder was officially designated today (3 December) as a UN Messenger of Peace to advocate for the Organizations work, with the artist blind since birth to champion people with disabilities.
He will join ten other Messengers of Peace individuals widely recognized for their talents in the arts, academia, literature, sports and entertainment in helping to raise worldwide awareness of UN ideals and activities through their public appearances, contacts with the international media and humanitarian work.
Wonder said his priority would be to push for the world to become more accessible to people with disabilities, for example through technological innovation. He took the opportunity of his designation ceremony to demonstrate several devices, including one that helps blind people recognize the color of clothing.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon introduced the new UN Messenger for Peace to the press at a news conference later in the day, saying that Wonder was a musical genius whose songs have given pleasure and hope to people around the world, as well as a great humanitarian who had campaigned against apartheid, for children in need and for people with disabilities. He said the United Nations was lucky to have him join the fight for disability rights.
Ban pointed out that with one in four people around the world affected because they or a family member are disabled, this was not a minority issue.
Wonder told reporters at the press conference that the honor of being named UN Messenger of Peace presented him with a challenge akin to writing another song, and announced that if Im challenged to write a song thats a hit, its gonna be number one. So were gonna win on this one, too.
Wonder was previously honored at the UN in the 1980s for his work against apartheid. He then sang a song he composed for the occasion, "The Bell for Freedom".
Wonders career as a recording artist has reflected his concern with humanitarian issues. He has written, produced and/or performed songs relative to charities in support of disabilities, AIDS, cancer, diabetes, hunger and homelessness, domestic abuse and many other causes on behalf of children and adults.
His appointment as UN Messenger for Peace recognizes his philanthropic efforts, including the President's Committee on Employment of People with Disabilities, the Childrens Diabetes Foundation, Junior Blind of America and the creation of the Wonder Vision Awards Program. For over ten years, he has provided toys for children and families in need with his annual House Full of Toys benefit concert.
In an interview with UNifeed, Wonder said he did not see being UN Messenger for Peace as a ceremonial role, but planned to be a hands-on fighter for the rights of disabled people.
Asked about the importance of role models for people with disabilities, Wonder named Ray Charles and Hellen Keller among those from whom he himself has drawn inspiration. But he told UNifeed that what was sometimes most impressive was when a person has everything but says listen, I know what I can do, I know what I do have, but what about those persons that dont have?
Throughout the day, Wonder stressed again and again that his mission was to make the 90 percent of people who are not themselves disabled, care about the ten percent with disabilities.
In response to a question on his own experience as a blind man, he said that he did sometimes wonder what it would be like to see. The first thing he would like do if his sight was restored would be to drive a car! and see what the people around him actually looked like.
Wonder, winner of 25 Grammy awards, was born in the US state of Michigan in 1950. He became blind shortly after birth.

News Network for the United Nations and the International Community.


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