|Ana Arizabaleta of the non-governmental organization Colombianitos smiles with Lord Puttnam as she accepts the first UNICEF Children's Rights Award, which was given at the Beyond Sport summit in London.|
LONDON, United Kingdom, 10 July 2009 – As the inaugural 'Beyond Sport' summit took place in London this week, UNICEF presented a special award for an inspirational project that uses sport to ensure children's rights.
UNICEF UK Ambassador Lord Puttnam presented the first UNICEF Children's Rights Award to Goals for a Better Life, a programme run by the Colombianitos non-governmental organization in Colombia. The programme uses sport, music and other recreational activities to reduce the devastating consequences of violence and terrorism on the lives of Colombia's children.
The UNICEF honour is one of a series of Beyond Sport Awards recognizing sport-led social innovation initiatives worldwide. Beyond Sport is an international NGO that celebrates and supports positive change through sport.
'Play is a right'
Ana Arizabaleta of Colombianitos commented on the value of the award. "It is huge, because trying to get children back to school is really tough, and sport can help us do that," she said. "It also recognizes the importance of the right to play itself.
"Sport is important in terms of the non-formal part of a child's education and has particular value for children from troubled backgrounds," she added.
"Play is a right, and sport is a fantastic tool for promoting and fulfilling children's rights, as demonstrated by Colombianitos," Lord Puttnam said at the award presentation. "We have seen sport lead to real change, particularly in the area of girls' education, both getting and keeping them in school."
The other short-listed nominees for the UNICEF UK award were Greenhouse, a UK-based organization; the Kids League in Uganda; and the Play Soccer Network, which reaches across Africa. The finalists were chosen from over 300 entries reaching more than 80 countries that submitted applications to this year's inaugural award.
Beyond Sport Award winners receive £10,000 and a substantial package of technical support to help their programmes grow and become more sustainable.
Interaction with world leaders
The awards were presented as part of a three-day summit, from 7 to 9 July, bringing together the world's best sport and development projects. Participants had the opportunity to nurture their initiatives by interacting with leading international sports organizations, corporate partners, and political and world leaders.
The summit was led by influential global figures such as former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Prince Faisal Al Hussein of Jordan, London Mayor Boris Johnson, multi-Olympic gold medallists Ian Thorpe and Michael Johnson, and Wilfred Lemke, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General.
For further information about UNICEF's involvement, please contact UNICEF Sport for Development Specialist Amy Farkas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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