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UNICEF "Champions for Children" gala brings stars together to support children’s causes


BEIJING, – With the world’s attention focusing on the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, UNICEF China hosted a “Champions for Children” reception on 9 August to advocate for the most vulnerable children in China, including those affected by the Sichuan earthquake and by HIV/AIDS, and to express appreciation for the support of partners, supporters, and friends.

“After a brilliantly successful and glittering start to the Games last night, what better way to emphasize the Olympic ideals of sports, participation, and non-discrimination, than to use the Olympic week as an occasion to advocate for the most vulnerable children in China,“ Dr. Yin Yin Nwe, UNICEF China Representative.

Mr. Yi Xiaozhun, Vice-Minister of Commerce, expressed warm appreciation for UNICEF’s longstanding work in China as well as for the disaster relief response during the recent Sichuan earthquake emergency.

“UNICEF has greatly contributed to the cause of children in China. It was the first international organization to provide aid to the quake zone after the massive Sichuan tragedy. UNICEF’s emergency relief efforts have made a visible difference in the lives of people,” said Vice-Minister Yi.

Prior to the earthquake, UNICEF had been working in Sichuan and other areas of western China enabling UNICEF to rapidly mobilize its resources and respond immediately when the earthquake struck. So far UNICEF has provided around $US 10 million of assistance to earthquake-affected children.

At the reception, Dr. Nwe presented tokens of appreciation to the Hong Kong Committee for UNICEF, Audi China, IKEA China, Porsche China, Starwood Hotels and Volkswagen China for their support to UNICEF to help the most vulnerable children in China.

Continued support for earthquake-affected children

The star-studded event brought together high-level representatives of the Government of China, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors Jackie Chan, Lang Lang, and Jelena Jankovic, many Chinese celebrities and other friends and supporters of UNICEF to advocate for children affected by the Sichuan earthquake, children affected by HIV/AIDS, and girls’ equality.

One of the highlights of the evening was the presentation of a short film documenting UNICEF’s and the Ministry of Commerce’s support to the earthquake-affected children of Sichuan.

UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and world-renowned pianist Lang Lang played at the event, dedicating his performance to the fulfilment of children’s dreams. “I became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador because I hope to play some part in helping children fully realize their dreams,” said the virtuoso.

Girls’ equality media campaign

UNICEF National Ambassador for Serbia and newly-named world No. 1 professional women’s tennis player Jelena Jankovic and 14-year-old junior tennis player Liu Yingchong jointly introduced a television campaign produced by UNICEF and the All-China Women’s Federation as part of a campaign to advocate for equal opportunities for girls.

“UNICEF supports programmes in China to help change attitudes that discriminate against girls and in doing so, helps girls realize their dreams,” Jankovic said.

Three outstanding women featured in the television campaign — China’s top female conductor, Maestro Zheng Xiaoying; well-known scholar and writer Yu Dan; and TV talk show presenter Chen Luyu. They were present to share their stories and support UNICEF’s campaign to promote girls’ equality in China.

Children Affected by HIV/AIDS’s Opportunities and Dreams

Tan Yuanyuan, Principal Dancer with the San Francisco Ballet, and one of China’s greatest ballerinas, attended the reception to help raise awareness of the plight of children affected by HIV/AIDS. She presented artwork by participants of the current annual Summer Camp for children affected by HIV and AIDS, organized by UNICEF and the China National Committee for the Care of Children.

The evening ended with a group of children affected by HIV/AIDS singing a song and presenting a drama entitled “Opportunities and Dreams” to appeal for equal rights to participate in sports and recreation for all children. The gala ended on a playful and hopeful note, with UNICEF staff, senior Government officials, celebrities, and corporate partners sharing the stage with the children and playing ball with them.


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