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News note

Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg, promotes right to play

VENEZUELA, 15 July 2007- UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Nils Kastberg, will attend the 2007 Copa America - Venezuela final in Maracaibo, the date also coincides with the National Day of the Child in Venezuela.  UNICEF is the beneficiary organization of this year’s Copa, thanks to a 2004 signed agreement with CONMEBOL.  In this year’s football competition, the oldest in the world, UNICEF is promoting the right to play and to sports in general, highlighting their importance in the healthy growth and development of all children.  The Regional Director’s presence during the final reaffirms this often forgotten right.

As in each of the previous Copa America matches, 22 Venezuelan children, dressed in UNICEF cyan (blue) will take the field hand in hand with the players from Argentina and Brazil, serving as the first ambassadors in promoting their own right to play and to sports.  A UNICEF video featuring more than 80 children from a neighborhood in Petare (Caracas) will be retransmitted throughout the stadium as well as in various national and international television channels, carrying the message: “Behind every football, there are thousands of dreams.  Let’s make it so children can reach them.  It is their right to play.  With Children We All Win!”

Nils Kastberg took advantage of his visit to Venezuela by attending the meeting on the Right for indigenous sports and games, held on 14 July in the Planetarium Simón Bolivar in Maracaibo.  The meeting was organized by the National Network of Indigenous Adolescents and Youth, the University of Zula and UNICEF.  Representatives from each of the country’s 34 indigenous communities participated in the activity, which is a result of the annual indigenous child and adolescent meeting held with support of UNICEF- Venezuela.

Indigenous youth consider the Copa America as an opportunity to demand their right to play, sports and participation and as a tool in improving their access to development benefits in an environment free of violence and exploitation.

In this meeting, the indigenous children and youth demonstrated five traditional games that promote values based on gender equality, solidarity, individual and collective respect and intercultural harmony.  It is hoped that this type of activity generates public policies targeted towards promoting child participation through sports and playing.

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For any further information, please contact:

Nicolas David, Communication, UNICEF Venezuela, tel: 58-212 284 56 48, ndavid@unicef.org




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