Organization Spreads HIV/AIDS Awareness, Prevention Through Soccer in Africa, Boston Globe Reports
The Boston Globe on Thursday profiled Grassroot Soccer, a not-for-profit organization aimed at educating children in Africa about HIV/AIDS using professional soccer players as teachers. The organization was co-founded by Ethan Zohn, a former professional soccer player and winner of CBS's "Survivor: Africa." It sends professional African soccer players to middle schools to teach about HIV/AIDS "using a curriculum that combines soccer and academics," according to the Globe. Tommy Clark, a pediatrician and co-founder of Grassroot Soccer, said professional soccer players in Africa are "like role models, the gods of the community."
Zohn said that children participating in the program are given HIV/AIDS information "so they can possibly lead a healthy lifestyle" and that the dialogue generated through the program is "reducing the stigma of HIV and AIDS." About 250,000 children have been graduated from the program, and it is expanding into Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Zohn currently is participating in a 550-mile "dribble-a-thon," during which he will dribble a soccer ball from Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., to Washington, D.C., to raise funds and awareness for Grassroot Soccer in the U.S. Along the way, Zohn will stop at high schools and colleges to lecture on HIV/AIDS, and he plans to end his tour in the district on World AIDS Day, which is Dec. 1. "We are really trying to create this generation of HIV-negative kids," Zohn said, adding, "We want everyone in America to know about Grassroot Soccer" (Diaz, Boston Globe, 8/21).