Nanjing: Turning Young Athletes into Humanitarian Ambassadors

Publié: 12 septembre 2014 11:38 CET

By Kevin Xia, IFRC

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), with support from the Red Cross Society of China, participated in the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games Culture and Education Programme from August 14-28.

As one of five international organizations to participate in the Culture and Education Programme, IFRC hosted daily walk-in booth activities and educational workshops in the Youth Olympic Village with varied themes ranging from humanitarian values, road safety, first aid and youth as agents of behavioral change (YABC).

During the two-week-long event, Red Cross and Red Crescent activities sparked great interest in humanitarian issues among thousands of young athletes, sports officials and volunteers.

First aid training, themed as ‘Save lives, be a hero’, quickly became the most appealing activity. The IFRC booth trained 150-200 young athletes, NOC officials and volunteers on CPR, bleeding, and how to take care of common sports injuries.  

"The activity is not only interesting, but also quite useful for us. We all should learn it. The hands-on practice left a strong impression in our minds,” said Ugne Mazutaiyte, a young swimmer from Lithuania.  

Athletes were invited to share their ‘My Red Cross and Red Crescent Story’ through words and art, which displayed the reach of the Movement. The booth received so many athletes and NOC members who had a special connection with the Red Cross; some were Red Cross hospital babies, some belonged to a local Red Cross volunteer network, and others had donated to a Red Cross emergency appeal.

“The Red Cross network transcends borders,” said Dr Zhao Baige, IFRC vice president. She made a call for action to the young athletes, “Find a local branch of the Red Cross or Red Crescent in your hometown, engage in volunteer activities and bring more friends along to join. You are the future. You can bring positive change to the world,” she said.

During the Nanjing Games, the IFRC booth organized three YABC workshops. YABC is the IFRC’s flagship initiative for the promotion of a culture of non-violence and peace. Created in 2008, this programme seeks to empower individuals to take up an ethical leadership role in their community. The workshop engaged with young athletes from diverse backgrounds in awareness-raising on thematic issues or personal skills development through games, role-plays, visualization exercises and storytelling.

Miss Macarena Chiriboga, an equestrian competitor from Ecuador – whose grandmother is an official with the Ecuadorian Red Cross was elated to attend the IFRC activities. “I learned a lot and also made friends,” she said. I will share with my grandma the special experience. ”

“Small changes in individuals can affect so many others. The first aid skills learned in a training increase the chance of survival after a serious disaster or car accident; the youth that learns how to communicate well can bring peace and well-being to their friends and community,” said Baktiar Mambetov, IFRC booth leader.  “We designed activities for the young athletes in the hope that they will become humanitarian ambassadors and use their role as prominent figures to promote humanitarian issues in their countries and communities”.

The Youth Olympic Games is an elite sporting event which brings together young athletes. The 2014 Nanjing Summer YOG featured over 3,800 athletes between age 15-18. The first games were held in Singapore in August 2010.

Thomas Bach, IOC president, extended his thanks to the Red Cross for joining the Youth Olympic Culture and Education Programme. “You are providing a noble service by imparting young athletes with the skills of how to save lives,” he said.