Hong Kong, 12 May 2012 –Conservation and sports came together in Hong Kong today as Rare, a leader in catalyzing communities to take pride in natural habitats worldwide, and the Yao Foundation, the charitable organization founded by basketball legend Yao Ming, unveiled a new partnership that aims to engage youth in conservation activities across China.
Through this partnership, Rare and the Yao Foundation will combine their unique skills around community education, social marketing, training and sports to launch a number of youth focused conservation activities in China. These activities include:
- Engaging children in fun and educational activities related to living healthy, outdoor lifestyles
- Encouraging people to visit, support, and appreciate China’s 2,000 nature reserves
- Protecting endangered wildlife and reducing consumption of illegal wildlife products
- Reducing water and air pollution
“Our partnership with Yao will allow us to continue focusing on our core Pride Programs, but with a twist,” said Brett Jenks, President and CEO of Rare. “The Yao Foundation has positively touched the lives tens of thousands of youth across China. Yao is greatly admired, by young people in particular - and by working together, I’m confident we can create a whole new breed of young, motivated conservation ambassadors across the country by having them experience China’s natural wonders firsthand.”
In cooperation with the PRC Ministry of Environmental Protection and State Forestry Administration, Rare has already implemented its signature Pride Programs – which mobilize local people to protect their community’s natural surroundings – in 16 sites since 2003, reaching 240,000 people in China’s rural communities. From discouraging tiger poaching to reducing deforestation and protecting wetlands, these activities have delivered tangible outcomes.
“Though people are often the cause of environmental problems, they are also the best hope for creating solutions,” added Jenks. “Joining forces with the Yao Foundation will boost our ability to help Chinese communities build sustainable practices that improve living standards while simultaneously preserving nature.”
“Helping youth has been the primary focus of my foundation since its inception. Today more than ever, young people want their voices to be heard - they are passionate about taking action to help shape the future of the environment and yearn to be involved,” said Yao Ming. “Rare has a very strong track record in making use of creative techniques to help communities protect their most valuable assets and improve their livelihoods. I am confident that by working together, we will be able to empower youth to take an important role in creating a truly positive impact across Chinese communities.”
Today in Hong Kong, Yao made a special appearance alongside Brett Jenks at the “Play for the Planet” charity basketball event, sharing hoop tips with children and families. The event marks the first fund-raising initiative under the Rare-Yao Foundation partnership.
“Everyone can make the most of their talent on the basketball court, get better every single game and contribute to team results. Likewise, we can work together as a powerful team and do our part to protect the planet,” added the ex-NBA superstar.