David Beckham became visibly emotional while introducing the special UNICEF Voices of Youth installation at the U.N. headquarters in New York City

By Lindsay Kimble
Updated September 25, 2015 10:00 AM
Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty

David Beckham‘s passion was evident as he helped unveil UNICEF’s Assembly of Youth installation at the United Nations’ headquarters in Manhattan on Thursday.

The soccer star, 40, became visibly emotional as he spoke of his encounters with disadvantaged youth around the world in his capacity as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

“It breaks my heart to see the struggles that children and young people across the world face every day,” Beckham said while introducing the Google-created digital installation alongside U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake.

The actor told the story of a family he met in the Philippines shortly after the typhoon disaster in 2013. One of the couple’s two daughters was found dead after they tried to take shelter from the devastating storm on the roof of their home.

“A day and a half [after the typhoon] unfortunately [one of the girls] was found face down and unfortunately she had died,” Beckham said, choked up. “This was one of the most devastating stories I heard.”

Beckham said he hopes for a better future for children, and with current global goals he feels there’s a real chance to create a safer world for youth.

“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,” he said. “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.”

The star said that, as a father, it’s heartbreaking to see children continually suffering.

The Assembly of Youth initiative was created by UNICEF and Beckham to help bring the voices of children to a global audience. The star has been working as an ambassador for 10 years, now.

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“Today, I went to the United Nations with @unicef to unveil a unique installation that brings the messages of children, in realtime, directly to those with the power to change the future,” Beckham wrote on Instagram, and shared a photo from the event. “Join me in asking world leaders to put children, especially the most disadvantaged, at the heart of the new #GlobalGoals.”

His wife, Victoria Beckham also used social media to highlight the cause and praise the former athlete’s passionate work.

“Proud of my husband’s heartfelt speech today @unicef,” she wrote.