US basketball association and UNICEF aim for slam dunk against AIDS in China

22 June 2006

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and its Basketball Without Borders programme in Asia has teamed up with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to distribute HIV/AIDS education materials and sports kits to schools in seven provinces throughout China.

The National Basketball Association (NBA) and its Basketball Without Borders programme in Asia has teamed up with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to distribute HIV/AIDS education materials and sports kits to schools in seven provinces throughout China.

Dubbed ‘Skills for Life in a Box,’ the kits contain interactive HIV/AIDS learning materials for teachers and peer educators to use in the classroom, as well as a basketball and other sports equipment to help young people learn about inclusion, empathy, teamwork and fair play.

UNICEF China 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 be more sympathetic towards those living with AIDS “by showing that all children can be included in sports and, through inclusion, stigma can be defeated.”

Samuel Dalembert, a Haitian native and player on the Philadelphia 76ers, agreed that the initiative was critical to sparking action. “We cannot stand on the sideline and just watch it happen. We have to get involved. All young people have to act,” he said of the programme and kits being distributed.

Mr. Dalembert is among a number of NBA stars working as coaches at the camp, including Atlanta Hawks forward Josh Childress, Toronto Raptors centre Matt Bonner, Orlando Magic’s Pat Garrity, Houston Rockets guard Richie Frahm and Portland Trail Blazers centre Ha Seung-Jin.

In China, there are over 840,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, but awareness remains particularly low among children and young people.

A recent study found that 50 per cent of a sample of 2,500 young people between the ages of 15 and 20 could not explain one way to protect themselves from HIV, and in addition, around half the young people in the same study believed that HIV could be transmitted by sharing chopsticks, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) said.

The Youth and AIDS campaign in China has adopted the slogan ‘Learn, Share and Care’ to help young people protect themselves while addressing stigma and discrimination, the greatest barriers to HIV/AIDS care and treatment.

China AIDS Youth Ambassador Zhao Ying added: “I am very happy to learn more about AIDS today, 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 programme builds on last month’s event at UNICEF headquarters in New York, where the agency and the NBA Cares Foundation announced a partnership to help promote the initiative, UNITE FOR CHILDREN, UNITE AGAINST AIDS. That drive is assisting the Basketball Without Borders Asia sports camp which opened on earlier this month in China at the Shanghai University of Sport.

 

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