On Thursday the 17th December 2009 Terry Connell and Mike Billman met up with the UNICEF head of fundraising for the UK, Miss Paula Pearce.
Over lunch in London's West End it became very clear that UNICEF are keen to develop a partnership with the British Karate Federation.
Paula Pearce was very enthusiastic over the ideas brought to the table by Terry and Mike, and her offer of resources to facilitate this exciting new project was apparent, as was her professionalism and enthusiasm over the idea.
Paula further gave an indication of their keenness to form a partnership by stating that it is her intention to attend and observe the BKF International Championships to be held in Glasgow over the weekend of the 10th-11th July 2010. It is this event that will see the launch of the campaign to raise, not only funds, but awareness of the plight of millions of children who live in desperate conditions around the world.
It is our belief that British karate, with its' enormous contingent of child participants, can make a positive difference to many of these young lives, and we are proud to have been granted full partnership status in this noble cause.
The WKF President, Snr. Antonio Espinos, has asked for a full report on the progress of this initiative, and Terry has been delighted to be able to report that UNICEF see the BKF's plan as a generic template for all 209 WKF member countries to work to in the future.
The UNICEF HQ in Geneva are keeping a close eye on developments, and it is vital that work is started on this project immediately. A lot of hard work and planning will have to be done, and Terry indicated to Mike that he would be delighted if he could continue to work him on this, the most important project that the BKF have undertaken to date.
Some months later, on the 15th April 2010 Terry Connell and Mike Billman again met with Paula and her assistant, Helen Shaw, at the UNICEF headquarters in London.
The purpose of the meeting was to jointly plan the launch of the BKF/ UNICEF partnership scheduled to take place at the BKF International Open Championships in Glasgow over the weekend of 10-11th July 2010.
UNICEF made it clear that they are very excited about this project, and have offered to lend their expertise in this field by supporting the event in every way they can, including supplying promotional material, media coverage, and manpower. A senior UNICEF representative will also address the audience, and a short film will be shown to illustrate how a little help and support for these poor children around the world can have a dramatic effect on their lives.
This is part of the Awareness Campaign the BKF are taking to their members, particularly the younger ones. Both the BKF and UNICEF agreed to feature each other on their respective web-sites, which will receive an estimated 5-6 million hits in 2010-2011.
The prospect of the BKF working with the WKF was then discussed and UNICEF stated that they are extremely keen to move this forward. UNICEF feel a successful event in Glasgow would show the main headquarters in Geneva that karate is serious about its intent to help young, underprivileged children around the world. This, in turn, would be a very positive step in making a WKF/ UNICEF partnership a reality.
Also discussed was the prospect of a WKF ambassadorial visit to a UNICEF project and this is something which will be looked into further if the launch in Glasgow is succesful.
Attached are photographs from the meetings and of some of Scotland's young practitioners, who were eager to assist in the first local fundraising event in Glasgow recently.