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UNICEF’S "Champion for Brazilian Children": Felipe Massa

© UNICEF/Brazil/2007/Murillo Constantino
UNICEF ‘Champion for Brazilian Children’, Felipe Massa, believes that all children have the right to play, and that sports and school can help children realize their dreams.

Sao Paulo October 11, 2007.- “I’m going to work very hard and do everything I can to help make life better for children in Brazil,” said Felipe Massa, after being officially nominated as UNICEF’s “Champion for Brazilian Children” on 10 October in São Paulo, Brazil. “I know from my own experience how valuable it is for children to have the right to play, and the positive impact sports can have in your life. Playing sports as a child taught me how to be a better team-player and to concentrate on important things, like the value of learning and always trying to do your best.”

“Playing sports helped me focus at school, and helped me to grow as a person and to work towards achieving the dreams I had as a child,” said the wildly popular Formula 1 race-car driver. “That’s why I think that sports and school go together very well - they help kids to focus on their present and their future. I am really very proud to be joining UNICEF, which has done such good work for children in Brazil for so many years. UNICEF’s work has made many children’s dreams come true, and I think it’s the least I can do to help out. It’s my first day on the job and I’ve still got a lot to learn, but I know that together, we can build a better present - and a better future - for each and every child in Brazil, and for children around the world.”

In Brazil, UNICEF works with various partners including government, civil society, private sector, media, communities and well-respected Brazilians as it convenes and mobilizes society around children’s issues, including the rights of children to: survive and develop; learn; be protected, and protect themselves, against HIV/AIDS; grow up free from violence, and, be the absolute first priority in public policies.

“For UNICEF, this is a very important day because we are being joined by another key ally as we work to ensure that the rights of each and every child and adolescent in Brazil are realized,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Representative in Brazil. “Felipe is a role model for children and young people in Brazil, and by his positive attitude and example, he helps show that each one of them can make their own dreams come true.”

After the press conference, held just 2 days before Brazilian Children’s Day, Felipe took time to meet and talk with 100 girls and boys from the low-income neighbourhoods of Brasiliandia and Jardim Ângela of São Paulo, signing autographs for each of them, and also waving the starting flag for their bike tour through the go-kart track where Felipe first learned his Formula 1 racing skills as a child. “We think Felipe’s number one,” said 14-year old Maria. “He is very nice and he signed his name on my ball-cap, and I got to take my photo with him!”
Felipe joins UNICEF Brazil’s team of allies, including Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury - now celebrating 12 years as a UNICEF Ambassador in Brazil - who welcomed Felipe to the team, noting that his passion and dedication to helping children is the sign of a true champion.
While there have been improvements in the situation of children in Brazil, including reductions in infant mortality and increased access to basic education, millions of Brazilian children and adolescents still live in extremely vulnerable situations, especially in the Semi-Arid and Amazonia regions, and in concentrations of poverty in major urban centres throughout the country; UNICEF focuses its efforts in these areas. “We can give children the opportunity to get a better education, to have the right to play and to reach their goals in life”, said Felipe. “That’s why I’m so glad to be part of the UNICEF team.”

For more information
Kent Page, kpage@unicef.org UNICEF Brazil

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About UNICEF
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports 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 funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

 

 
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