The Flame National Youth Congress at Wembley Arena provided the perfect backdrop for the official unveiling of Pass it On, CAFOD’s Olympics peace campaign aimed at children and young people in England and Wales. Inspired by the 100 days truce that accompanied the Ancient Olympics, CAFOD is encouraging its young supporters to take part in the online initiative by uploading video clips and posting personal messages to all those in the world who are not living in peace in 2012.
Four young ambassadors for the aid and development charity joined Abdi Dima, representing CAFOD’s Kenyan partner the St John’s Sports Society, on the Wembley stage to launch Pass it On. They shared their own personal accounts of how they have seen sport bring people together before orchestrating an 8,500 strong Mexican wave around the arena to symbolise the ‘passing on’ of peace to everyone in the room.
Speaking on the day of the launch, Abdi said:
‘I live in Korogocho, one of the largest slums in Nairobi, bordering the city dump.
“Life is very hard for young people. High poverty and unemployment easily leads to drugs, crime and violence. In 2008, after the Kenyan elections, there was terrible violence between rival factions and ethnic groups. I saw people burned out of their homes and forced to flee for their lives. It was sad to see so many young people of my age engaging in violence against each other.
“Life since then has been very hard but the sports society helps kids in the slum to have fun, and at the same time it teaches them confidence, team work, tolerance and discipline. Our motto is “Pamoja Tunaweza” (Together we can), and we are open to everyone regardless of their ethnic background and religious beliefs.
‘My life would be a disaster without karate, without it I could have fallen into the many traps that await young people in Korogocho. Instead I am part of something positive where people can come together, play together, get to know each other and feel comfortable. We are building peace in our own community. This is the message that I bring today, a message of peace that I hope everyone here will pass on and live out in their own community.’
So far, hundreds of people have shown their support for Pass It On, by uploading their image to the website, including The Most Reverend Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, Father Christopher Jamison and Olympic champion Jason Gardener, MBE.
CAFOD supports a vast network of schools and youth groups in England and Wales, helping to provide its young supporters with the skills and knowledge to tackle social injustice on a global scale and become agents for change in their own communities.
CAFOD Director, Chris Bain said:
“It was excellent to see so many young people come to the Flame Congress, and participate with such enthusiasm. It is testament to the fact that – despite the bad publicity young people in our country often get – the vast majority are good, caring, enthusiastic individuals who want to make the world a better place. CAFOD takes great pride in the work we do not just to support young people in the poorest countries in the world, but to empower young people here in Britain to take positive action in their communities. The Pass It On campaign is a great example of that.”