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NBA/UNICEF Project Launched for AIDS and Youth

Building on last month's global launch at the UNICEF headquarters New York, NBA and UNICEF-China launched a project to distribute life-skills materials in sports kits to schools across seven provinces on June 11.

The NBA/UNICEF partnership further strengthens the "Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS" campaign by bringing interactive HIV/AIDS learning materials for teachers and peer educators to use in the classroom. The kits also contain basketball and other sports equipment to help young people learn the values of inclusion, empathy, teamwork and fair play.

"We cannot stand on the sideline and just watch it happen. We have to get involved, we have to act, all the young people have to act," NBA star and UNICEF Haiti Ambassador Samuel Dalembert attended the ceremony and told the audience at the Shanghai University of Sport. Later they held a lunch.

A public service advertisement (PSA) made in Chinese by Yao Ming were shown for the first time, though the Chinese NBA superstar himself could not be in Shanghai due to the schedule.

Huang Jinhong, a Fuyang girl orphaned by AIDS told of how with all the support she had been given through the UNICEF-assisted project, her life had improved though she would never get her parents back. "That's why preventing AIDS is important. When you get infected it will be too late," she said.

"I am very happy to learn more about AIDS today," Zhao Ying, China AIDS Youth Ambassador added, "to share with each other and care for friends affected. Sports is one way I think we can all work together and show how we can care by including all children affected by AIDS in games and sports."

The life-skills and sports project was launched at NBA's "Basketball Without Borders" Asia camp where a galaxy of NBA stars are working as coaches, including Josh Childress, Matt Bonner, Pat Garrity, Richie Frahm, Ha Seubng-Jin and Samuel Dalembert.

UNICEF HIV/AIDS Programme Chief Ken Legins explained that the "Skills for Life in a Box" project was an exciting way to mobilize young people to learn about AIDS and care for children affected. "They care by showing that all children can be included in sports, and through inclusion-stigma can be defeated." he said.

Mobilizing young people in China was especially important, he continued, since there were 320 million young people in China, or about one fifth of the worlds youth. "If China can change, then the whole world could change," he emphasized.

The Youth and AIDS campaign in China has adopted the slogan of "learn, share and care" to help young people not only to protect themselves but also to address stigma and discrimination, the greatest barrier to care and treatment in the AIDS response. The message in Chinese was put on cards and held aloft for a photo-op at the close of the launch.

(China.org.cn, UNICEF June 16, 2006)

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