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South African match referee meets with young HIV/AIDS activists in Antigua

© UNICEF/2007/Dabney
ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 Match Referee Mike Procter listens intently as ‘Teen Talk’ TV producer Mitzi Allen describes the HIV/AIDS situation faced by youth in Antigua.

By Robert Dabney

ST. JOHN’S, Antigua, 10 April 2007 – Mike Procter, a former member of the South African cricket team and current International Cricket Council (ICC) Match Referee, officiated at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 matches played in Antigua over the past two weeks. But what really held his attention were the efforts of young people in Antigua working to reduce the spread of HIV among teens.

Mr. Procter visited with the hosts and producers of ‘Teen Talk’, a UNICEF-sponsored half-hour local television talk show that challenges youth to talk openly about HIV prevention.

The group of eight young people also included members of the Rotoract Club, the youth arm of the local Rotary, who have produced public service announcements targeting teens with messages on HIV/AIDS prevention. The PSAs were funded by the UNICEF Eastern Caribbean office.

‘A need to give something back’

Mr. Procter’s visit came as part of the alliance between the ICC, UNICEF, UNAIDS and Caribbean Broadcast Media Partnership on HIV/AIDS to spotlight children and AIDS during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 games. The partnership supports the ongoing Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS global campaign.

“As a sportsman, I’ve always felt a need to give something back to the sport and the communities that have been so good to me during my career,” said Mr. Procter, who was a member of the South African squads of the 1970s and ’80s.

“There are some things in life that you just have to do,” he continued. “Visiting with these young people in Antigua and seeing how they are taking the fight against HIV and AIDS to their peers directly is one of those things.”

© UNICEF/2007/Dabney
‘Teen Talk’ host Denesha Whyte (left) and other members of the UNICEF-supported show’s production team talk with Mike Procter about the need for young people to reach out to their peers to help stem the spread of HIV in the Caribbean.

Influential visitor

During his visit, the young people presented Mr. Procter with video copies of both ‘Teen Talk’ and the PSAs. Taking part in the presentation were the show’s producer Mitzi Allen, its host Denesha Whyte and Rotoract Club President Keita Mason.

“We’re really happy that Mr. Procter took his day off to spend some time with us,” said Ms. Allen. “Teen Talk is very important to the youth of Antigua. We don’t rehearse the show beforehand. We just give teenagers the opportunity to talk about issues that are important to them.

“With so many teens in the Caribbean facing difficult choices today, learning how to protect themselves against HIV and how to make the right decisions regarding their sexuality is very important,” she added.

UNICEF was also pleased at the decision of the ICC to involve the referees in these outreach visits during the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007.

“Having a match referee meet with young people in the region is a highlight of this World Cup,” said Heather Stewart, UNICEF Child Protection Specialist and Focal Point for Antigua and Barbuda. “Mr. Procter’s visit demonstrates the full commitment of the ICC for the Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS campaign.”



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