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Manchester United and UNICEF champion rights of adolescents

Manchester United players meet young people in live broadcast as part of United for UNICEF partnership
2016-07-24 13:39 2657

SHANGHAI, July 24, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Manchester United and UNICEF joined together to champion the rights of underprivileged young people through a series of cultural activities on July 23. United Legends Bryan Robson and Ji-sung Park, plus players Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia and Paddy McNair, also took part in a Q&A session, which was broadcast live on Sina Weibo, arousing huge interest amongst Internet users.

Manchester United players Michael Carrick (L1), Antonio Valencia (L3) and Paddy McNair (R2) join in a game of shuttlecock kicking as young people demonstrate their skills in Shanghai on 23 July, 2016. The players were soon able to swap a football for a shuttlecock. United Legends Bryan Robson and Ji-sung Park, plus players Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia and Paddy McNair, took part in a Q&A session with six adolescent boys and girls in Shanghai, China on 23 July, 2016.
Manchester United players Michael Carrick (L1), Antonio Valencia (L3) and Paddy McNair (R2) join in a game of shuttlecock kicking as young people demonstrate their skills in Shanghai on 23 July, 2016. The players were soon able to swap a football for a shuttlecock. United Legends Bryan Robson and Ji-sung Park, plus players Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia and Paddy McNair, took part in a Q&A session with six adolescent boys and girls in Shanghai, China on 23 July, 2016.

 

Young people exchange hand made gifts with the players and Legends after a fun afternoon together, where they played shuttlecock kicking and shared life experiences. United Legends Bryan Robson and Ji-sung Park, plus players Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia and Paddy McNair, took part in a Q&A session with six adolescent boys and girls in Shanghai, China on 23 July, 2016.
Young people exchange hand made gifts with the players and Legends after a fun afternoon together, where they played shuttlecock kicking and shared life experiences. United Legends Bryan Robson and Ji-sung Park, plus players Michael Carrick, Antonio Valencia and Paddy McNair, took part in a Q&A session with six adolescent boys and girls in Shanghai, China on 23 July, 2016.

Taking time out of the club's pre-season tour of China, Robson, Park and the players spent time with six adolescent boys and girls from rural Gansu and Henan provinces, and encouraged them to talk what matters in their lives.

The young people are benefiting from a life skills education programme supported by UNICEF in collaboration with China Association for Science and Technology (CAST).

During the one hour interaction, the young people were joined by the players in the traditional Chinese game of shuttlecock kicking. The young people shared stories of their experiences with the programme, for example overcoming problems at school and in their personal lives.  The young people asked for advice from the players on how to cope with setbacks and pressure, as well as how to be a good team player and lead a healthy lifestyle.

"The players and I were honoured to be here today and to be a part of this incredible partnership. I've witnessed first-hand the great work that UNICEF does to protect vulnerable children, and am proud that the club is so supportive," said Robson. "Adolescence is a crucial stage of life. It's great to hear these young people share their stories and to give them advice on how they can cope with some of the challenges they might face."

The players hope that their influence across the huge Manchester United fan base in China will help champion the rights of marginalised adolescents, and encourage young people to be the drivers of change.

Adolescence is often a challenging time for young people. It is an exciting but often uncertain transition from dependency to independence, sometimes leading to confusion, pressure and even depression. Adolescent boys and girls can be particularly vulnerable to peer pressure and stress, engage in risky behaviours like unsafe sex, or be exposed to injury and violence.  For some, these experiences have immediate consequences such as pregnancy or HIV infection.

"Adolescence is a valuable period of childhood in its own right, but it is also a critical period of transition and opportunity for improving life chances," said Rana Flowers, UNICEF Representative to China. "By providing positive and supportive opportunities that enrich the developmental environment during adolescence, it is possible to overcome some of the consequences of early childhood harm and build resilience to mitigate future harm. With their passion, resilience and commitment, players from Manchester United can be positive role models for young people, inspiring them to strive for success."

Although the country has made great strides in achieving universal compulsory education, the Ministry of Education data showed transition rate from primary school to junior secondary school had dropped since 2008, and the transition rates from junior secondary school to senior secondary school and onward were much lower. Region wise, children in the underdeveloped central and western China are more likely to be out of school.

In the context of China's urbanization, more than 17 million young people aged 12-17 are estimated to be migrants in cities, while 18 million from the same age group are left behind in the rural areas. Among them, a few million dropped out of school and some became new-generation migrant workers, often with insufficient knowledge or skills.

Between 2011-2015, UNICEF and CAST provided life skills training to out-of-school adolescents and students at vocational schools in 20 counties in 11 provinces. The courses included Career Guidance and Development, Interpersonal Skills and Communication, Independence and Self-Management, Life Skills for Girls, Financial Education and Social Emotional Learning, as well as Information Technology. Around 30,000 adolescents participated in the programme and more than 1,000 teachers received relevant training.

"The programme opened another door in my life," Zhang Bin, a 16-year-old boy from Gansu who migrated to work in the provincial capital after dropping out of school, said during the live conversation. The participation in the training programme two years ago gave the rural boy the first opportunity to step foot in a city, learn computer skills, access the Internet and visit a museum. It helped him develop the ability of living independently and broadened his outlook.

About UNICEF

UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do.  Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: http://www.unicef.org

Visit UNICEF China website: www.unicef.cn  
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About the United for UNICEF partnership
The United for UNICEF partnership is now in its 17th year and has raised over £4m, helping UNICEF to change the lives of millions of vulnerable children worldwide.  It is the longest running partnership of its kind between a sporting organisation and a global children's organisation.

Photo - http://photos.prnasia.com/prnh/20160724/0861607410-a
Photo - http://photos.prnasia.com/prnh/20160724/0861607410-b
Photo - http://photos.prnasia.com/prnh/20160724/0861607410-c

Source: UNICEF China
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