Champion In Me unveils its Vision-2020 aligning with UN Sustainable Development Goals

Bengaluru, November 27, 2018: ‘Champion In Me’ (CIM) - a sports module conceptualised under the ‘Red Ribbon Revolution’ social initiative by Bangalore Schools Sports Foundation (BSSF) in 2008 exclusively for Children & Youth Living with HIV/AIDS, announced the ‘Champion In Me’ - Vision-2020 goals, while celebrating their decade long efforts in the field of eradicating stigma & discrimination faced by Children living with HIV (CLHIV) in Bengaluru on Friday. The initiative has been formally recognised by UNAIDS for its continued efforts in this field.

The event was inaugurated by Mrs. Margaret Alva - Former Governor of Uttarakhand, Goa, Rajasthan & Gujarat.

Dr. Bilali Camara, Director - UNAIDS India, Dr. J.V.R Prasada Rao – Former Special Envoy to the UN Secretary General for AIDS, Mr. Elvis Joseph, Director - Bangalore Schools Sports Foundation addressed the media about the initiatives and the impact of realising the efforts of organisations that help children & youth living with HIV/AIDS compete on various platforms, helping them lead a normal life.

Ms. Reeth Abraham - Former Athlete & Arjuna Awardee, Rev. Fr. Mathew Perumpil MI -  Director - Sneha Charitable Trust, Rev. Bernard Moras - Former Archbishop of Bangalore were present at the head table at the conference.

‘Champion In Me’ unveiled their Vision-2020 goals, which will align with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of creating sustainable financial modules to address the needs raised by HIV/AIDS, showcase best practices, induct new strategic partner programs to strengthen the HIV Community while advocating, educating and empowering the society with their mission goals.

Dr. J.V.R Prasada Rao – Former Special Envoy to the UN Secretary General for AIDS said, “The mission is to normalise the lives of children living with HIV/AIDS and that the children are not stereotyped as ‘sick’ but seen as children who can participate physically & mentally in sports and other daily activities. Involving children living with HIV in sports is the best way to fight the stigma & discrimination. Government programs should also have a strong component involving these kids in sports activities as a part of their programs, both at the central & state government level.”

Dr. Bilali Camara - Country Director for India, UNAIDS said, “This event today is the symbol of courage and resilience and a sign of great commitment to demonstrate to the whole world that living positively is the true solution. It is a clear sign that with determination, we can make zero discrimination a reality and we fulfil our dreams of becoming real champions in whatever area we want - sport, computer sciences, technology, mathematics, physics, engineering, etc. To you - the young Champions, only the sky is your limit.”

Mr. Elvis Joseph - Director, BSSF said, “Champion In Me has been a project that has built the lives of children & youth living with HIV/AIDS for over a decade now. This project should be shared as a best practice and it is the need of the hour that Governments & Agencies endorse initiatives like ours for the benefit of children across the world. Without Government intervention & support of International agencies, noble initiatives like Champion In Me that have helped in positively transforming lives of the children and youth, will be a far-fetched dream.”

Mr. Asif Iqbal - President, Indian Economic Trade Organisation who was also present at the event said, “IETO as a globally recognised organisation is pleased to associate with BSSF. BSSF has put in a lot of effort in the last decade in the field of empowering PLHIV and they are now aligning with the Sustainable Development Goals outlined by the UN. We’re happy to follow & fulfil these SDGs along with BSSF in a more organised manner and as per Government norms.”

Children who have been a crucial part of the project were also present at the event. Babu, Manik, Bhavani, Shruthi and Kaleshwar were few of the champions who have participated and competed in various National & International Athletic Meets, Marathons and Competitions worldwide. They spoke about their struggles and how sports have helped them eradicate the stigma of living with HIV. Their accomplishments on various platforms are a testament of their spirit and how they can live their lives normally, given the opportunity and encouragement of people who believe in them and their talent.

17 year old Babu said, “I was one of the first kids to be part of Champion In Me. Initially, I could barely run 100 metres but eventually when the competition increased and other kids joined, we began competing for marathons. I realised my strength was in endurance and was fit for longer runs. I have come a long way, winning 5 Kms and 10 Kms run, travelled to over 9 countries, recent one being the Bangkok International Run where I finished 6th. I am grateful to Elvis Sir for providing the best training plan for me. The opportunity made me realise my potential in sports and that I have a future.”

Bhavani was 7 years old when she first competed for Champion In Me in 2008. “We were rewarded with chocolates for every run we participated in and now I have participated in 7 marathons, running 10kms in 57 minutes. I run everyday  to motivate not only myself but others as well to set an example that no challenge is difficult if you work hard for it”, adds Bhavani.

‘Champion In Me’ was initiated in 2008 as an exclusive sports project for children and youth living with HIV/AIDS with about 100 children participating in the first annual sports meet. Over a decade the project has touched nearly 3000 children across various support centres and care centres across India empowering their lives through sports, giving them equal opportunities and the right to play sports.

The project has led to the kids participating in various sporting opportunities across the globe. The children have competed across four continents - participating in the International Children Games, various national athletic meets, children’s Olympics and many more International and National marathons as a result of all the efforts in the past decade. ‘Champion in Me’ has brought new hope to the kids in their battle to end the fight against social stigma and discrimination.

The mission goal of Champion In Me – Vision 2020 is to declare India a stigma and discrimination free country by the year 2020. Champion in Me also aims to hold “Champion In Me - 2020” in the year 2020 in Thailand- an International Sports event that would see children from various Asian countries coming together to participate and compete with each other. This would be a platform for all children being inclusive, regardless of their health and social status.

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