ATHENS, 13 August 2004 - UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy is in Athens today to kick off a series of events celebrating the role sports plays in helping children grow to a healthy adulthood. At the top the line-up is the opening of a camp for 450 young people from 200 countries, plus 50 from Greece who will be trained as “Champions for Children’s Rights”.
Other events include a roundtable discussion on HIV/AIDS and sports, and a star-studded fundraising event, the launch of a UNICEF publication on the importance of sports for children, and an exhibition.
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Nana Mouskouri officially opened a youth camp where the young athletes – chosen by their country’s Olympic Committees – are gathered. These young people will participate in workshops organized by the Athens Olympic Organizing Committee and UNICEF aimed at empowering them to concentrate their leadership and their sports toward the cause of children and youth in their own countries.
Tomorrow, Ms. Bellamy is participating in a roundtable discussion with heads of state, non-governmental organizations and UN agencies to discuss the importance of sport for development and peace. A working group will be established at the conclusion of the roundtable that will set down guidelines on how to transform the power of sport into programmes that benefit the development of people and their communities.
Following roundtable, Ms. Bellamy will chair a session on Sports and HIV/AIDS. UNICEF believes that the sports world must be mobilized to fight the deadly pandemic. Several UNICEF country offices have implemented programmes to educate sports officials, coaches and players on life skills and HIV/AIDS prevention.
Earlier this week, the Swatch Watch Company presented Goodwill Ambassador Nana Mouskouri with a cheque for $200,000 to be used by UNICEF in Rwanda for peace education and HIV/AIDS prevention as part of their sports for development programme.
Also this week, a 1200 sq. m. tapestry called the “1000 Wishes” project sponsored by the UNICEF Germany National Committee traveled around the world so that children from various countries could add their artwork and express their wishes for the future. “1000 Wishes” is now on public display in Marathon thanks to the efforts of the Greek National Committee for UNICEF.
UNICEF is serious about the right to play. The children’s agency has just published a 28 page booklet laying down how sport, recreation and play promote health as well as equality for all. Read the report.
UNICEF has teamed up with several partners to bring the goal of sport as a vehicle of peace closer, including the International Olympic Committee, ATHOC, Right To Play and International Sports Federations, as well as the full support of the Greek National Committee for UNICEF.
Other participants at the discussion chaired by Ms Bellamy will be: Shashi Tharoor, UN Under-Secretary General for Communications and Public Information; His Royal Highness the Prince of Orange; The Honorable Stephen Owen, Minister of State and Sport of Canada; Dr Dennis Bright, Minister of Youth and Sport of Sierra Leone; Walter Fust , Director-General, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation; The Honorable Joel Libombo, Minister of Sports of Mozambique; Ambassador Teshome Toga, Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture of Ethiopia; The Honorable Henry Okello Oryem, Minister of State for Education and Sport of Uganda; and Thomas Sithole, Director, International Cooperation and Development Department at the International Olympic Committee.
For further information, please contact:
Kate Donovan, UNICEF Media, Tel: 212 326 7452