[Pictured: Travis Clark; photo by: Travis Clark/Instagram]
One child dies every five minutes from an act of violence, and men — including celebrities and musicians like We The Kings’ Travis Clark — are raising awareness for it by painting just one of their fingernails.
It all started when Y-Generation Against Poverty (YGAP) CEO Elliot Costello met a 10-year-old girl named Thea in Cambodia. Following the death of her father when she was 8, she was taken to an orphanage where she was physically and sexually abused for two years.
Costello met Thea while visiting YGAP beneficiary Hagar International in Cambodia. Despite there being a major language gap between Costello and Thea, the two bonded over games.
Near the end of the night, Thea painted all of Costello’s fingernails blue along with painting a blue heart on his hand; and it was the very next day that he realized wanted to do something regarding violence toward children.
“Meeting Thea, being inspired by her having that love in her heart to draw that love heart on my hand and hearing her story the next day really was a call-to-action, first and foremost, to learn more about the issue,” Costello says. ”So when I returned home half a week later with a group of friends connected to YGAP, we started doing some research and came across the horrifying statistics that one child died every 5 minutes as a result of violence—and most of that violence was being caused by men.”
And now, three years after the creation of the Polished Man Project, the cause has raised millions of dollars and amassed support from ambassadors around the globe—from Thor star Chris Hemsworth to We The Kings.
What the Polished Man Project is, as stated on its website:
Being a Polished Man means you paint one fingernail and take a stand to protect the world’s most vulnerable: children… Almost 90% of sexual violence against children is perpetrated by men, but Polished Man is not about pointing the finger. It’s about empowerment and celebrating the men who speak up and take action.
We The Kings frontman Travis Clark shared the following post on Instagram showing off his painted fingernail along with the message: “If I can use my ‘celebrity’ for anything, then it will certainly be to raise awareness to causes that need to be addressed. I am so sorry for anyone that has had to deal with this, and if it helps at all, just know that I love you… It was never your fault.”
I'm painting 1 nail for the month of October to raise funds and awareness to support the 1-in-5 children affected by violence before the age of 18. Do you guys realize how sad that is?? Obviously as a father this an extremely important issue, but also just as a human being this is something that we need to stop and be aware of. I love you all for even taking the time to read this quick post. So out of the 422,000 followers on my Instagram that means that roughly 105,000 people that know who I am have been affected by violence and child abuse. This is heartbreaking and if I can use my “celebrity” for anything, then it will certainly be to raise awareness to causes that need to be addressed. I am so sorry for anyone that has had to deal with this, and if it helps at all, just know that I love you and you it was never your fault. I am a #PolishedMan. Go to polishedman.com to join the cause! -Trav
The band found the cause through their podcast, We The Kings: Encore, which recently wrapped up Season 1, where the group was reaching out to different, important causes.
“Even though we had ended the podcast, we, as a band, said, ‘Hey, we don’t have to do it just because of the podcast,’” Clark says. “‘We should do this just to be good people and to be able to use our celebrity for good.’ We feel like it’s our duty to use our fan base and our platform to share what we believe in and good causes.”
Charity and fighting for a good cause has been something that’s been important to Clark’s life since he was a child and his family went to the beach on Earth Day to help pick up litter.
“My parents were always super-charitable, even in church when it came to tithing and giving back to church, they were always there for that. We’d do Earth Day like as a family, and my brother and I would go out with our family and we’d go out to the beach and pick up trash,” Clark recalls. “I think it kind of molded me into the person that is interested in doing a little more on my end to make things like that happen and relevant in my life. Especially now that I am a father, I want to instill those same values into my two daughters.”
Costello believes that Hemsworth’s Instagram post last year is truly what helped the movement gain footing in not only his native Australia, but also the rest of the world. However, he knows that there’s still much work to be done.
I'm a @YGAP #polishedman Being a @PolishedMan isn't just about remembering to buy flowers, how many rounds you shout, or how much you lift. It's about saying no to violence against children. That's why this October I'm painting my nail and asking you to donate to help the 1 in 5 kids globally who are subjected to physical or sexual violence before they turn 18. And I nominate @liamhemsworth @zacefron @robertdowneyjr @renner4real @markruffalo @twhiddleston nail it to end it. Become a polished man here www.polishedman.com @auschildhood , thanks to @laurapanton
“We have to remain honest that the levels of violence are still horrifyingly bad, so it’s fantastic to have global leaders on board and advocating about this issue, but we gotta go one step further in our approach to getting more and more people across this issue,” Costello says.
With four of the five members of the band being fathers, violence against children is something that truly hit home.
“We want to be the men that can show our children that a real man should be like and not someone that would do something that awful to a child.”