UNICEF "Champions for Children" gala brings stars together to support children's causes
Beijing, August 12, 2008 – With the world's attention focusing on the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, UNICEF China hosted a "Champions for Children" reception on 9 August to advocate for the most vulnerable children in China, including those affected by the Sichuan earthquake and by HIV/AIDS, and to express appreciation for the support of partners, supporters, and friends.
"After a brilliantly successful and glittering start to the Games last night, what better way to emphasize the Olympic ideals of sports, participation, and non-discrimination, than to use the Olympic week as an occasion to advocate for the most vulnerable children in China?" Dr. Yin Yin Nwe, UNICEF China Representative, said at the event.
Mr. Yi Xiaozhun, Vice-Minister of Commerce, expressed warm appreciation for UNICEF's longstanding work in China as well as for the disaster relief response during the recent Sichuan earthquake emergency.
"UNICEF has greatly contributed to the cause of children in China. It was the first international organization to provide aid to the quake zone after the massive Sichuan tragedy. UNICEF's emergency relief efforts have made a visible difference in the lives of people," said Vice-Minister Yi.
Even before the earthquake, UNICEF had been working in Sichuan and other areas of western China. UNICEF was able to mobilize its resources and respond immediately when the earthquake struck. So far UNICEF has provided around 10 million US dollars of assistance to earthquake-affected children.
At the reception, Dr. Nwe presented tokens of appreciation to the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF, Audi China, IKEA China, Porsche China, Starwood Hotels and Volkswagen China for their support to UNICEF to help the most vulnerable children in China.
Continued support for earthquake-affected children
The star-studded event brought together high-level representatives of the Government of China, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Jackie Chan, Lang Lang, and Jelena Jankovic, many Chinese celebrities and other friends and supporters of UNICEF to advocate for children affected by the Sichuan earthquake, children affected by HIV/AIDS, and girls' equality.
One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of a short film documenting UNICEF's and the Ministry of Commerce's support to the earthquake-affected children of Sichuan. Following the film, Jackie Chan led a group of children from the most ravaged areas in Sichuan to the stage to share their thoughts with the audience.
"I want to say to my father in heaven: Please don't worry about me. The teachers, classmates, and many kind people care about me. I will study hard and take good care of mother," Zhou Jie, a 13-year-old girl from Beichuan County said.
"Don't worry, children. There are lots of kind people helping you," Jackie Chan said. "I myself come from a poor family, so when I have the ability to help others, I do my best. Call me anytime you need me."
Mr. Yi Xiaozhun, Dr. Yin Yin Nwe, and Jackie Chan presented schoolbags to each of the children, and Jackie Chan delighted the children even more by autographing them. Sixty thousand of these school bags have been delivered to children in the earthquake zone amongst other items.
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and world-renowned pianist Lang Lang played at the event, dedicating his performance to the fulfilment of children's dreams. "I became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador because I hope to play some part in helping children fully realize their dreams," said the virtuoso.
Girls' equality media campaign
UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia and newly-named world No. 1 professional women's tennis player Jelena Jankovic and 14-year-old junior tennis player Liu Yingchong jointly introduced a television campaign produced by UNICEF and the All-China Women's Federation as part of a campaign to advocate for equal opportunities for girls.
"I can beat every single boy in my school in tennis! We have to change the way people think about girls," the young star Liu Yingchong told Jankovic.
"UNICEF supports programmes in China to help change attitudes that discriminate against girls and in doing so, helps girls realize their dreams," Jankovic said.
Three outstanding women featured in the television campaign — China's top female conductor, Maestro Zheng Xiaoying; well-known scholar and writer Yu Dan; and TV talk show presenter Chen Luyu. They were present to share their stories and support UNICEF's campaign to promote girls' equality in China.
In support of this initiative, one of the most exciting traditional Chinese music ensembles, the 12 Girls Band, and one of China's leading actresses, Li Bingbing, performed for the audience and children.
Children Affected by HIV/AIDS's Opportunities and Dreams
Tan Yuanyuan, Principal Dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, and one of China's greatest ballerinas, attended the reception to help raise awareness of the plight of children affected by HIV/AIDS. She presented artwork by participants of the current annual Summer Camp for children affected by HIV/AIDS, organized by UNICEF and the China National Committee for the Care of Children.
One drawing was by a 13-year-old boy from Jilin who loves to play football, but whose neighbours will not allow their children to play with him because his mother died of AIDS. Another poignant drawing, showing a warm and happy family, was done by a 14-year-old boy from Sichuan whose father died of AIDS and whose mother is ill. The boy worries what will happen if his mother dies.
"Can you imagine what it must be like to be a child facing these realities?" Tan Yuanyuan asked the audience.
The evening ended with a group of children affected by HIV/AIDS singing a song and presenting a drama entitled "Opportunities and Dreams" to appeal for equal rights to participate in sports and recreation for all children. The gala ended on a playful and hopeful note, with UNICEF staff, senior Government officials, celebrities, and corporate partners sharing the stage with the children and playing ball with them.
About UNICEF in China
UNICEF first assisted China between 1947 and 1951, providing emergency services, food and nutrition, health and hygiene training during and after the Revolutionary War. In 1979 UNICEF officially commenced its cooperation with the Government of China to support child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.
For further information, please contact:
Amanda Hudson, UNICEF China, +86 1391 118 2053, firstname.lastname@example.org
or Liu Li, UNICEF China, +86 1370 106 6671, email@example.com