NEW YORK, 18 November 2004 - Millions of children around the world will participate in a Lesson for Life on World AIDS Day (1 December) as part of a massive effort to educate children about HIV/AIDS prevention and spur them, their communities and governments to accelerate action on behalf of children and young people affected by the HIV/AIDS crisis.
“Young people are at the centre of the epidemic,” said Miquel de Paladella of the Global Movement for Children (GMC). “They have a right to life-saving information that will help protect them from HIV/AIDS and also have a major role to play in stopping the spread of this devastating epidemic.”
In both formal and non-formal education settings, the Lesson for Life gives children a leading role in teaching others the facts about HIV/AIDS, and in taking action in their communities to mitigate its impact. Providing a platform for children directly affected by HIV/AIDS to share their experiences, concerns and ideas, the Lesson for Life has been organised by the GMC, the world-wide movement of organisations and individuals, including children, uniting efforts to build a world fit for children.
In all, tens of thousands of schools and other venues in more than 50 countries will participate in the initiative. Children, young people, youth groups and schools will use discussions, plays, dramas, and writing to learn about HIV/AIDS and find ways to act on behalf of affected children.
Countries across every continent are involved: For example, in Bangladesh, non-governmental organisations including BRAC, Plan and World Vision are mobilising over 600,000 children and adults to participate in two-hour workshops where facilitators will discuss subjects including how HIV/AIDS is spread and how it can be prevented. In Honduras, Care, Oxfam and UNICEF will work with partners to involve mothers and children, religious leaders and nearly 2,000 institutions, including schools, churches and colleges in the Lesson for Life, and a 'Football for Life' event will teach footballers how to use sport to spread HIV/AIDS prevention messages. In Ukraine, the Ukraine National Network for Children and the Ministry of Family, Children and Youth Affairs will join forces with a quarter of a million children in Lesson for Life activities.
Hundreds of thousands of children will take part in Lesson for Life activities in Africa. In Ethiopia, actor Danny Glover will join Olympic Champions Kenenisa Bekele and Berhane Adere on a visit to the Ethiopian Children’s Fund village in Aleltu on Thursday 25 November to encourage participation in the Lesson for Life, which is set to involve 150,000 children in Ethiopia. In Senegal, over one million children will be mobilized in a joint initiative involving children’s organisations and the Ministry of Education. The Minister of Education for Senegal will participate in a Lesson for Life launch event on 1 December with representatives of 16 African countries. Meanwhile, the Kenya Alliance for Children, Plan, Save the Children, UNICEF and World Vision are working together in Kenya in a schools-based event involving 140,000 children.
An online Lesson for Life will run from 15 – 26 November on UNICEF’s Voices of Youth website http://www.unicef.org/voy/. Young people from around the world will be able to share ideas on how all children can be agents of change and help stop the spread of HIV and AIDS.
As a result of the Lesson for Life, children will write suggestions and ideas for future action in the form of ‘good news stories’, reporting retrospectively from the future about improvements made in their countries.
HIV/AIDS is hitting the world’s children and young people – particularly girls - hardest, undermining their rights and well-being. Millions are growing up without parents or in households with sick and dying family members, with little or no access to education and health services, and without minimum nutrition. More than half of all new HIV infections are in people under the age of 25. For girls this situation is exacerbated by factors such as trafficking, forced prostitution, incest, rape, female circumcision and early marriage - all of which put girls at greater risk of contracting HIV.
Part of the 2004 World AIDS Campaign on Women, Girls, HIV and AIDS, the Lesson for Life focuses on children, particularly girls, exploring important issues such as the difference between HIV and AIDS, high risk activities, factors influencing infection rates such as sexual violence and global trends.
Children affected by HIV/AIDS are part of the solution to the HIV/AIDS epidemic and, with their families and communities, can play a vital role in responding to its impact. Where HIV transmission has been reduced, the greatest reductions have been among young people.
As well as community initiatives, massive high-level action is critical in closing the colossal gap between what has been done, and what needs to be done to protect children affected by HIV/AIDS. The Lesson will therefore involve local leaders and other government officials in the children’s activities with a view to enlisting their support and reinforcing the urgent need for increased intervention by governments and the international community in addressing the crisis.
Interview opportunities are available with some of the leading organisations involved including:
Advance notice of Lesson for Life media events in Africa:
Thursday 25 November, Ethiopia: Actor Danny Glover will join Olympic Champions Kenenisa Bekele and Berhane Adere on a visit to the Ethiopian Children’s Fund village in Aleltu to encourage participation in the Lesson for Life.
Wednesday 1 December 2004, Nairobi, Kenya: Media will be able to join a ‘Lesson for Life’, lead by local children. Some of the above spokespeople will also be available for interview at the event.
Wednesday 1 December 2004: Senegal: The Minister of Education for Senegal will participate in a Lesson for Life launch event with representatives of 16 African countries.
For further information on Lesson for Life, to arrange an interview with one of the above spokespeople, or for further details about activities in a particular country or region, please contact:
Liz Harrop, Global Movement for Children, t + 44 (0) 1225 719672, m + 44 (0) 7940 350087 http://www.tiger-tail.org/ Kate Norgrove, Global Movement for Children, t +44 (0)1483 733 335 , m + 44 (0) 7813 164160