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New Zealand cricketer encourages Antiguan youths

© UNICEF/2007/Dabney
New Zealand cricketer Ross Taylor prepares delivery during a pickup game of cricket with Antiguan schoolchildren.

By Robert Dabney

ANTIGUA, 27 March 2007 – As the New Zealand cricket team began their workouts in Antigua for the Super Eight round of the ICC World Cup 2007, Blackcap Ross Taylor visited local youths involved in the UNICEF-sponsored Health and Family Life Education Programme here.

Among the issues highlighted in the training programme is the prevention of HIV transmission.

The visit by Mr. Taylor was organized as part of the alliance between the International Cricket Council (ICC), UNAIDS, UNICEF and the Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS to raise awareness of the issues facing children and young people affected by HIV. Trisan, 16, a student at the T.N. Kirnon School, was one of those who had an opportunity to interact with the New Zealand player.

Talk about preventing HIV

“Mr. Taylor is the superstar, but today I felt like a star,” Trisan said while joining in a pickup game of cricket with him on the YMCA basketball court.

“It was so special for him to come out here and talk to us about his life and how hard he worked and how much he sacrificed to become a cricketer,” Trisan continued. “I'm glad that I was able to talk to him and that he shared some positive things with us about preventing HIV and how to get ahead in life.”

© UNICEF/2007/Dabney
Ross Taylor (centre) during his visit with Antiguan youths participating in the UNICEF-supported Health and Family Life Education Programme.

Normally the number-three batsman on the New Zealand side, Mr. Taylor is out of the line-up for the immediate future with a tear to his hamstring. But the youngest member of his country’s team (he is 23) was visibly moved by his visit with the youth of Antigua.

“It was really good for me to interact with the children and to share with them some of the facts about preventing the spread of HIV,” Mr. Taylor said as he concluded his visit on Monday.

Encouraging a positive self-image

“I was close enough in age to these kids that I could relate to them in a real way,” he added. “I was especially glad to hear that they have gotten a pretty good grounding in how to keep themselves safe – and also that so many of them expressed some very positive life goals that they are working towards.”
Through the Health and Family Life Education Programme, UNICEF works with teachers in Antigua to provide a holistic range of topics that help children build their life skills and self-esteem.

Health Education Specialist for the Eastern Caribbean Elaine King explained that UNICEF works with educators in Antigua to make sure appropriate HIV education is a part of the lives of young people. Encouraging a positive self-image, she added, improves their decision-making and negotiating skills with regard to sexuality, violence and drug abuse.



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