NBA player/UNICEF team up for Grenada’s children

NEW YORK, USA, August 30, 2006 – Washington Wizards center, Etan Thomas, is in Grenada today as part of an effort aimed at promoting psycho-social projects to help at-risk children.

Thomas, 28, who is of Grenadian descent, is also set to review the status of projects supported with funds donated by him in the aftermath of Hurricane Ivan on September 10, 2004. His wife and other family members are accompanying him on the trip.

“I have a special connection to Grenada because that is where my grandmother is from, so it is important to me to come back and help in anyway I can,” the Wizards player was quoted as saying in a government statement yesterday. “If I can offer advice, share my experiences and lend support to efforts that make a difference in kids’ lives, I am more than happy to do so.”

While in Grenada the 6’10” Thomas is also slated to pay a courtesy call on the island’s Prime Minister, Keith Mitchell, and also meet with Minister of Youth Emmalin Pierre, President of the Grenada National Basketball Association and young people who have been involved in the UNICEF community projects he currently supports.

Additional highlights of his visit include the opening of Basketball Fiesta in the St. Patrick’s Basketball League. The trip marks Thomas’ fourth visit to Grenada, his most recent visit to the island was in July 2005.

Thomas donated a total of $40,000 to UNICEF in the wake of Hurricane Ivan. Other NBA players, as well as the National Basketball Association donated funds attributable to Thomas’ generous gift, totaling $100,000 for UNICEF’s recovery efforts in the Caribbean.

Thomas’ and the league’s community involvement in Grenada serves as part of the NBA Cares platform, the league’s global community outreach initiative that builds on the NBA’s long tradition of addressing important social issues. NBA Cares focuses on the areas of education, youth and family development and health-related causes, and partners with internationally recognized youth-serving organizations such as UNICEF to make a lasting impact in these areas.

UNICEF’s Representative for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Tom Olsen noted that Thomas’ visit could not be timelier.

“This visit is very opportune because it comes at a time when UNICEF globally is promoting the use of sports as a useful tool towards the overall development of young people,” said Olsen. “Sports can help build self esteem, respect, leadership and cooperation which are important life skills needed to prepare young people to make positive choices about social issues. Sports figures like Mr. Thomas can therefore be seen as positive role models for many Caribbean youth and UNICEF is pleased to have him on board as a partner.”


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