UNICEF cash raised during Commonwealth Games will help children around the world

GLASGOW'S Games generosity could spark a legacy of using sporting events to support charities.

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  • Ashley Burke, with her new 16-day old baby Zander, is been a book 'I Love My Baby' by health visitor Kirsty McLelland and Huw Owen of Unicef
    Ashley Burke, with her new 16-day old baby Zander, is been a book 'I Love My Baby' by health visitor Kirsty McLelland and Huw Owen of Unicef
  • Ashley Burke, with her new 16-day old baby Zander, is been a book 'I Love My Baby' by health visitor Kirsty McLelland and Huw Owen of Unicef

That is the hope of Unicef bosses who, for the first time, joined with the Commonwealth Games to raise cash for their projects.

During 11 days, more than £5million was raised to help children in Scotland and around the Commonwealth following an appeal made during the opening ceremony.

Commonwealth Games project director for Unicef, Tom Burstow, said: "We are delighted with the £5million raised - it is an amazing amount. Nothing like this has been done before, so we weren't sure what we would raise.

"First and foremost, it gave us the chance to show people our work all around the Commonwealth and also in Scotland. People tend to know about Unicef's work overseas so it was important to show what we do here."

That work includes a new scheme which gives a book to the parents of every newborn in Scotland, and Unicef has also pledged the ambitious target of reaching every child in the Commonwealth by the next Games in 2018.

The Games fundraising began when 1.3billion viewers of the opening ceremony were shown short films of Unicef projects around the Commonwealth and were urged to put children first - the motto of the charity.

Viewers learned of work in Malawi where it and Glasgow 2014 aim to reduce youth unemployment and HIV infections in young people.

Two youth centres, in Blantyre, the country's capital, and Thyolo, a rural community, are the only places in the local area where young people can meet up and learn new skills.

At the centres they are also given education, vocational training and are taught about HIV.

The centres also run sport and cultural activities, providing opportunities for young people to learn in a safe environment.

Money raised for Unicef will also be used in Bangladesh, where the partnership with Glasgow 2014 is tackling child labour and child marriage.

Families of children who are most at risk are given financial support to make sure they can keep their children in school.

Education and regular school attendance gives children protection against being forced into work or early marriage.

Glasgow's cash will also reach as far as the islands in the South Pacific.

IN that region, Unicef and the Glasgow 2014 partnership are working with Just Play, harnessing the power of football to keep children healthy, happy and safe.

Through giving children the chance to play, Unicef aims to promote healthy lifestyles, gender equality, social inclusion, disability awareness and child protection.

Meanwhile, in the Caribbean, the Unicef and Glasgow 2014 partnership is using sport to cut violence and school drop-out rates.

By supporting sports and play activities, this scheme encourages children to stay in school, helping them gain confidence and an education.

The children receive support from specially trained teachers and learn skills to help them resolve conflict peacefully.

Cash also goes to Guyana, in the Americas, where a project tries to reduce teenage pregnancy, suicide rates and teen violence, and lower school drop-out rates.

Using sport and popular culture to engage teenagers, it is designed to equip them with the knowledge and skills to adopt a healthy and productive lifestyle.

Money raised by donations also stays in Scotland, where Unicef wants to touch the life of every child. A new scheme sees mums of all Scottish newborns receive a book called Baby, I Love You.

Launched just last month, it has been designed to help build loving and nurturing relationships between new parents and their baby. The book encourages skin contact, holding, stroking, playing and singing.

Part of the same scheme, but for older children, is the Child Rights Launchpad, a website for youngsters aged three to 18, giving them access to information about their rights, and which aims to help them lead happier and safer lives.

The Launchpad will be provided free to schools, community and sports groups and youth clubs.

TOM added: "The response we have had in Glasgow is a great opportunity to show what can be achieved at sporting events.

"We believe we can make major sporting events a chance for millions of people to come together to help children and young people - that's our ambition.

"I am passionate about the idea that sporting events can be a chance to work with people to raise awareness of the work we, and other charities, do.

"Glasgow has raised the bar high for other sports events. We have projects that show how positive sport can be for children.

"What better place to put children first?"

catriona.stewart@ eveningtimes.co.uk

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