Lionel Messi and Serena Williams back 1 in 11 education campaign

Two of the world’s biggest sports stars have teamed up to back the 1 in 11 campaign to help get children into school and learning.

Barcelona footballer Lionel Messi and American tennis ace Serena Williams appear in videos for the charity drive – representing the 58 million children not at school because of obstacles such as child labour, child marriage, conflicts and discrimination. They are asking people to take part in the #1in11 Challenge to keep a ball up 11 times and donate money to education projects.

Lionel – a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF – said: “I’m supporting the 1 in 11 campaign because I believe every child has the right to fulfil their potential and realise their dreams. Education is fundamental to this but millions of children across the world are out of school and not getting the start in life they are entitled to.”

The 1 in 11 campaign is a partnership between UNICEF, FC Barcelona and Reach Out To Asia. They are teaming up to harness the power of sport and education to give all children the opportunities they deserve in life. Money is being raised to fund three education pilot projects to reach some of the most marginalised and vulnerable children in Indonesia, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Lionel added: “I believe that through sport we can teach values of respect, teamwork and effort, and ultimately inspire children to attend and stay on in school, so they will receive the quality education which will equip them with the skills they need for life.’

World tennis number one Serena, is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. She said: “In many countries we take it for granted that every child has the right to receive a quality education but 1 in 11 children around the world do not enjoy that right – and without it, may never reach their full potential.

“We need to kickstart global progress and get that number down to zero, so every child has the chance to learn.”

The campaign will also raise funds through a major art auction at Sotheby’s in London on February 12, featuring donated works by renowned artists including Takashi Murakami, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Richard Serra and Shirin Neshat. 

In Indonesia, the campaign will support schools in six districts to include children with disabilities. In Nepal, UNICEF has worked with the government to identify 10 priority districts that will offer sports programming for children up to secondary school, particularly aimed at breaking down the societal barriers for children with disabilities and including them in school. In Bangladesh, the campaign’s focus will be on reaching out-of-school children.

You can find out more about the 1 in 11 campaign and donate here. And you can add your voice to the growing movement to get all children around the world into school by signing the #UpForSchool Petition.


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