Press Briefing


The 2001 United Nations International Year of Volunteers was the theme of the Twelfth Annual International Youth Art Competition launched this morning at a Headquarters press conference. 

Some 1 million children in over 75 countries had participated in the international competition since its inception in 1986, the President of Paz y Cooperacion, Joachim Antuna told correspondents.  The Spain-based non-governmental organization had used 30 January -- a school holiday in Spain to celebrate peace and non-violence -- as the date to award the winners of the competition.  Volunteerism was a part of Spain's culture and society.  Since 1996, the Peace and Cooperation School Award had been launched in cooperation with Airline Ambassadors International, a volunteer organization which had been carrying out valuable humanitarian projects around the world. 

The goal of the competition was to bring global issues to the heart of schools around the world, Mr. Antuna said.  Each year, three posters appearing in three or more languages were used to promote the competition.  A young girl from Yugoslavia, who was a winner in last year's competition, had designed one of this year's posters.  The poster featured the competition's motto "Together we can do it" and depicted children of all colors representing the third millennium.

Most of the winners of past competitions -- some 80 per cent -- were girls, Mr. Antuna said.  The first prize winner of last year's competition was a girl from Latvia.  Other winners were from Egypt and Romania.  The competition stretched to all parts of the globe. 

Volunteer service was based on an act of will and individual choice, Nancy Rivard, President of Airline Ambassadors International, said.  "Every great movement in history was started by an individual choice", she said.  Airline Ambassadors consisted of airline personnel who dedicated their vacation time to deliver humanitarian relief around the world.  She had just returned from El Salvador, where she had been working when the most recent earthquake hit.

The success of the United Nations International Year of Volunteers relied upon the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of volunteers, Ms. Rivard said.  The competition was exciting because it gave school children the opportunity to think creatively about large human problems.  Airline Ambassadors was committed to promoting the competition in the schools it worked with, on humanitarian missions, and through television and networking.  A United States national award would be given at the United States Congress in the fall.  Two airline tickets would be donated as a grand prize.

The competition sought to support the four objectives of the United Nations International Year of Volunteers, Ms. Rivard said.  They were increased recognition, facilitation, networking and promotion of volunteering.  Airline Ambassadors was supporting those objectives in the hope that many people would be encouraged to make a difference in the lives of others.

Felipe Luciano, a journalist from FOX-TV, said that volunteerism had to be a part of a person's character.  Children were the first to detect hypocrisy in organizations and individuals which claimed to be what they were not.  Children

were begging adults to live together in peace.  "School was the womb of the next millennium", he said. 

Mr. Luciano then announced the conditions for entering the 2001 competition.  Children up to the age of seven had to complete a drawing related to the slogan "Together we can do it".  Children between the ages of eight and 10 were asked to write a poem to a volunteer (it could be an imaginary volunteer) showing appreciation for the work he or she did.  Children between the ages of 10 and

14 could create an actual work project to be carried out by volunteers for a specific place and problem.  That project could be also depicted in the form of a comic book.  Youth between the ages of 14 and 18 could write a news report on the experiences of a volunteer.  Teachers were encouraged to make a 30-minute video recording on the work accomplished by a volunteer. 

Children up to the age of 18 could design a poster calling for people to become a volunteer for peace, which would include a persuasive slogan, Mr. Luciano added.  The closing date for the competition was 1 July, and an international jury would meet on 24 October -- United Nations Day -- in Madrid, Spain to judge the entries.  A public awards ceremony would be held on 30 January 2002 in Madrid.

Mr. Antuna said that the prizes were small, and money did not play a big role in the competition.  The important thing was that children and teachers added to their understanding of global problems and would be inspired to do something about them.

Entries to the competition should be sent to c/- Melendez Valdez, 68, 4139 28015 Madrid Spain.

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