UNICEF and the Indian Olympic Association join hands to raise HIV/AIDS awareness
New Delhi, October 13, 2005: The Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and UNICEF today entered into a partnership on HIV/AIDS awareness among young people. The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Shri Suresh Kalmadi, President, Indian Olympic Association and Mr. Eimar Barr, Deputy Director - Operations, UNICEF – India at the Asian Workshop on HIV/AIDS prevention through sports. Ms. Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi was chairperson at the signing and addressed the gathering.
Recognizing sport as an important means of improving the lives of children, the IOA-UNICEF collaboration will focus on promoting initiatives to enhance national awareness of the UNICEF Programme, using the opportunities provided through national games, associated functions and events.
The IOA will encourage players, coaches and officials to support the shared goals of the IOA and UNICEF. “The Indian sports community has a great history of supporting social causes. Through sport, many health issues can be acknowledged and understood, and at the same time students and players can be educated about how they can contribute towards raising awareness about health issues”, said Shri Suresh Kalmadi, President, Indian Olympic Association.
Commenting on the IOA – UNICEF collaboration, Eimar Barr, Deputy Director Operations, UNICEF - India said, “UNICEF strongly believes that Sports-related organizations are uniquely poised to spread crucial information and prevention messages about HIV/AIDS to young people. HIV/AIDS education can be imparted during practices, through coaching sessions, during events and at breaks and half-times. Many UNICEF country offices have implemented programmes to educate sports officials, coaches and players on life skills and HIV/AIDS prevention so that they can empower the young people with the accurate knowledge on HIV and its spread.”
UNICEF works closely with young people on awareness and prevention of new infections, offers programmes to prevent parent-to-child transmission of HIV and helps communities provide care, protection and support to children orphaned and made vulnerable by the disease.
In countries around the world UNICEF has used sport, recreation and play in improving health – both mental and physical - through teaching important life lessons about respect, leadership and cooperation. Games also provide a great opportunity to talk and share information about serious matters such as HIV/AIDS and the issues surrounding it such as counteracting social stigma and discrimination, and promoting care and support for those who are affected by the disease. At the same time, sports participation provides a safe and supportive space for young people affected by HIV/AIDS – orphans and other vulnerable children – where they can feel a sense of belonging and inclusiveness and exercise their right to play.