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At a glance: Singapore

In Singapore, inaugural Youth Olympic Games provide competition and inspiration

© UNICEF Malaysia/2010/Muthalib
Annalese Smith (left) and Sally Cash, both from Australia, hold the t-shirts they made at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

SINGAPORE, 27 August 2010 – As the first-ever Youth Olympic Games comes to a close, a young female athlete quietly traces the outline of her hand on a piece of paper and writes, “I have a right to be educated and to play any sports I like.”

She is one of some 3,600 young athletes aged 14-18 – representing over 200 countries – that competed at the inaugural Youth Olympic Games in Singapore this month. The athletes gathered not just to compete, but also to participate in an array of vibrant cultural and educational programmes and a broad range of innovative learning opportunities.

Sport, recreation and knowledge

Organized under the direction of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Youth Olympic Games are an international high-level sporting event for adolescents held every two years, alternating between the summer and winter seasons. In addition to providing opportunities for young athletes to compete in 26 olympic sports, the games also aim to provide young people with the knowledge and skills to become role models for their peers and to play an active role in their communities.

© UNICEF Malaysia/2010/Muthalib
Akane, who hails from Johannesburg, South Africa, holds the t-shirt she made at the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.

During a spectacular opening ceremony this month, IOC President Jacque Rogge told the athletes that their experiences during the games would help prepare them for life beyond the field of play.

UNICEF Malaysia played a major role in providing fun and interactive training for athletes on the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and hosted a UNICEF booth in the ‘Athletes Village.’

Using a child-centred approach, the booth offered participants a chance to engage in a variety of activities and games, focusing on the rights of children and the conditions that are necessary for them to reach their full potential.


Young role models

Through activities at the UNICEF booth, young participants were able to express their life stories, dreams and values in a highly creative format. Many athletes chose to design their own t-shirts with compelling slogans. One t-shirt read, “You have the right as a girl to play sports.”

"When I see other athletes drawing, writing and leaving messages about children's rights, I feel I want to cry,” said Akane, an athlete studying and training in Johannesburg, South Africa. “In my hometown, the children write on the floor; when it rains, they cannot write. I want to do something for the children – to give them paper and books.” 

Akane said she is inspired to become a UNICEF volunteer and to bring these changes, among others, to her home community.
UNICEF is committed to ensuring that every child has the right to participate in play, recreation and sport in a safe and healthy environment, a right articulated in Article 31 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. UNICEF works with sport organizations as a key component of its commitment to improve the lives of children.



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