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UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake meets with Brazilian youth and addresses their concerns

Seventeen-year old Bruna dos Santos presents to UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake, communication materials adolescents prepared for the HIV prevention campaigns during his recent trip to Brazil.

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, 9 November 2011- “Listening to the challenges you face as adolescents, it becomes clearer and clearer to me that you, the adolescents, are the ones most able to find new solutions," said UNICEF Executive Director, Anthony Lake as he addressed a gathering of young people during a recent four-day visit to Brazil, which focused on the promotion of children’s rights through sport and ways in which Brazilian youth are currently empowering themselves in order to meet the growing needs of their communities.

Adolescents share ideas

In a meeting with adolescents and community leaders at Morro dos Prazeres, one of the low-income communities in Rio de Janeiro, Mr. Lake listened intently to the group’s concerns related to health, education and violence. The community is actively involved with The Platforms for Urban Centres, an initiative carried out by UNICEF and its partners to reduce inequities affecting the lives of boys and girls of the most disadvantaged areas in Brazil’s mega cities.

Flaviano da Silva Souza, a participant in the meeting, did not hide his enthusiasm when he told Mr. Lake about an important achievement - the implementation of a health unit in his community at the beginning of the year.

“As a start, in order to understand the reality of the health conditions of our community, we carried out a diagnosis and presented the findings to the local authorities and pointed out the unmet health needs of our population,” explained Flaviano. “I am really glad to know that my voice can make a difference in my community.”

In an open field located at Morro dos Prazeres, Brazil, adolescents invited UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake to see the digital mapping of environmental risks in communities in Rio de Janeiro carried out by adolescents.

During the conversation, the adolescents also discussed ways they have been contributing to overcoming the problems that affect their lives.

“We hold meetings and share ideas about how to improve health services, schools and the environment,” said 17-year-old attendee, Bruna Cristina Gentil dos Santos. “We have been doing HIV/AIDS prevention campaigns ourselves, by sharing awareness-raising materials and distributing condoms.”

Mapping community risks

After the meeting, Mr. Lake was invited by Michael, Nayara and other adolescents to see the digital mapping of environmental risks in communities in Rio de Janeiro carried out by the girls and boys in partnership with UNICEF, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), GeoRio, Rio Águas and the Civil Defense.

The adolescents had recently been trained to use GPS-equipped smartphones for locating and mapping on-site, and how to use a kite or balloon with a camera for taking aerial photos. The methodology allows for the mapping of specific aspects of each community such as sanitation problems, infrastructure dangers, impediments to evacuation, and environmental preservation activities carried out by the communities.

In an open field located at Morro dos Prazeres, Michael and his fellow peers, gave Mr. Lake a demonstration using a kite and a camera. “The pictures we take from up there enable us to help the Civil Defense identify areas and situations of risk in our community,” Michael explained.

A ‘top notch’ commitment

© UNICEF Brazil/2011/Caffe
Patricia Amorim, President of Flamengo, and UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake present the first Flamengo jersey displaying the UNICEF logo and a special UNICEF T-shirt with the name of the commitment signed by the team in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

In another trip highlight, Mr. Lake attended the launch of the partnership between UNICEF and Flamengo, a sports club with about 40 million fans.

The partnership was announced during an event held at Flamengo headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, whose participants also included the President of Flamengo, Patricia Amorim and the Vice President of Sustainability of ABC Group, Beto Pires Ferreira.

The commitment provides a framework to guide Flamengo’s initiatives to strengthen the club’s social responsibility, with UNICEF’s support.

“We will adopt social responsibility practices which protect the rights of children and adolescents”, said Ms. Amorim. “I hope that other sports clubs will follow our example and sign the ‘My team is top notch’ Commitment.”

As a symbol of the club’s commitment, the UNICEF logo will now be displayed on the soccer players’ jersey.

“The eyes of the world will be on Brazil with the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics and Paralympics in 2016,” said Mr. Lake during the launch. “And now, thanks to the vision and the commitment of the Flamengo Sports Club, Brazil will not only be measured by goals or medals, but also by the realization of the right of every girl and boy to play in a safe and inclusive environment.”



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