Port Vila, 9 December 2017: On 9 December the Queen’s Baton arrived on the island of fire, Ambae, Vanuatu. Awaiting its arrival were more than 600 children from the Just Play Emergency Programme, at the base of the Manaro volcano.
Through its partnership with the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched a sports-based emergency response on 20 November, which supported more than 2000 children forced to evacuate their homes after volcanic action threatened their homes. In coordination with the Just Play programme, this emergency response programme supported children through Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) centres, primary schools and communities.
“Ensuring children and families are given the right kind of support and messages to support psychosocial recovery after a major event in their lives is important,” said UNICEF Representative, Sheldon Yett. “Parents can start focussing on rebuilding their lives once they can see their children happy and playing – and we can do this through sports,” he added.
Recognizing the important role sport can play in supporting the psychosocial recovery of children after an emergency, the Just Play Emergency programme supported the dissemination of critical messages through play-based sessions and festivals.
“Football has an important role to play both on and off the field. We view the Just Play Emergency Programme as a key component in making positive contributions to the lives of children across the Pacific,” OFC President David Chung said. “We know that in times of disaster, children and families rely on routine, which sport can provide to help them recover and regain the confidence to move forward.”
Kicking off celebrations for the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Cost, the Queen’s Baton is making its Commonwealth tour. On its epic journey to the Gold Cost, the baton will cover over 200,000 km in less than 400 days – making its debut in Vanuatu on the East and West of Ambae at the Just Play Emergency Programme festivals. The baton leverages the power of sport, bringing people together as it is passed hand, to hand, reinforcing inspiring messages of hope, recovery and perseverance for the children of Ambae.
The Just Play Emergency Programme was delivered in partnership with the Vanuatu Football Federation, the Fiji Football Association, the Union of European Football Association (UEFA), UEFA Foundation for Children, Vanuatu Association of Sport and National Olympic Committee (VASANOC) and the Government of Vanuatu.
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