NEW YORK (AP) — Demi Lovato was named a Global Citizen ambassador at the organization's annual music festival Saturday, championing the mental health of thousands of children displaced within Iraq and other vulnerable communities.
The singer and Global Citizen will fund the expansion of a Save the Children pilot program, Healing and Education through the Arts, to violence-scarred young people living in Iraq's Kirkuk and Salah al Din areas.
"Ending the stigma around mental health conditions and supporting internally displaced children to build physical and mental resilience through education and access to justice is not a choice, it needs to happen, and it needs to happen now," the singer said onstage in Central Park.
Since 2014, more than 3 million people in Iraq have been displaced within the country due to war and conflict. Carolyn Miles, president and CEO of Save the Children, told the festival crowd the organization's HEART program will allow displaced children scarred by the violence to process trauma "through drawing, painting, music and other art forms" as a way to begin healing and "rebuild their self-confidence and trust in others."
Lovato has been a strong advocate for mental health issues after sharing her own struggles with eating disorders, substance abuse and a bipolar diagnosis.