06 April 2014

How Just Play is Helping to Kick Dengue Out of the Pacific

 Kids doing Just Play demonstration during the OCF Champions 
league match © UNICEF Pacific/2014/Melissa Palombi
Kicking off the Oceania Football Confederation (OFC) Champions League tournament in Fiji, was the Just Play team in celebration of the 1st International Day of Sport for Development and Peace. The OFC, Ministry of Health of Fiji, Ministry of Youth and Sport of Fiji and UNICEF Pacific, joined together, linking sport and health, in support of the “Kick Dengue Out” campaign.
Over 20,000 people in Fiji have been infected with dengue since the outbreak in October 2013. Creating a link between sport and health has allowed for the delivery of critical information on dengue to a broad audience from across the Pacific.

Prior to the Champions League kick-off, Just Play participants and instructors took to the field and together participate in football and health activities.

OFC Head of Social Responsibility and International Relations, Franck Castillo explains how the Just Play programme is capitalizing on the use of sport as a vehicle to promote social messages. “At Just Play we recognize that children who have a positive experience in physical activity early on in life are more likely to develop good exercise habits and to participate in sport and physical activity throughout their lives. Using this as our foundation, we are working hard with our partners to capitalize on the use of sport as a social development tool”.

With the help of UNICEF Pacific, Just Play has been working to ensure that their programme provides a quality environment within which childrencan learn, grow and explore physical activity in a positive and meaningful way. Tomas Jensen, Communications Specialist with UNICEF Pacific explains how the Just Play programme combines sport and key social messages. “This year we have supported Just Play to integrate messages on child development, health and protection into all their sessions and activities with the hope that the programme will encourage children to learn through active participation”.

Established in 2009, the award winning Just Play programme (2013 Peace and Sport Award for Sport Federation of the Year) promotes physical activity for children aged 6-12 years through football-related activities, while also addressing endemic issues relevant to the Pacific. By engaging children in sessions that integrate key messages, children learn about healthy lifestyle habits, gender equality, social inclusion, disability awareness and child protection. The programme, currently in its sixth year, now has over 150,000 children participating in 11-Pacific Island countries.
For more information on Just Play please visit: www.justplayofc.com

For more information on dengue please click on the following link: http://www.wpro.who.int/southpacific/programmes/communicable_

Download the Ministry of Health Fiji’s Do you think you or your family member may have dengue? pamphlet

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