Love4Gambia 2012 News Releases

Love4Gambia becomes official charity for three premier running events in Canada

For immediate release                                                                                                             February 6, 2012

OTTAWA – Love4Gambia, a running expedition across the West African nation of The Gambia with the goal of raising funds to keep children alive through health education programs, today announced that it has been selected as an official charity for three premier running events in Canada.  Runners can join Team Love4Gambia at the Tamarack Homes Ottawa Race Weekend, the Scotiabank Blue Nose International Marathon in Halifax, Nova Scotia and the Chocolate Race in Port Dalhousie, Ontario.

“We are proud to be affiliated with these first-class Canadian running events,” said Andrea Moritz, Love4Gambia Team Leader.  “By joining Team Love4Gambia at one of these events, Canadians can give their race special meaning and make a difference in the lives of children in West Africa,” she added.

The Love4Gambia running expedition will see Andrea Moritz of Ottawa run across the entire country of the Gambia starting on June 25, 2012.  She will cover over 30 km each day for a period of two weeks in conditions of extreme heat and humidity.

“Team Love4Gambia is a great way for Canadians to participate in this running expedition.  I am excited to have the support of runners and walkers participating in races in Ottawa, Halifax and Port Dalhousie and know that the money they raise will keep children alive,” Moritz stated.

To join Team Love4Gambia, runners and walkers are asked to raise funds for a registered Canadian charity, the Nova Scotia – Gambia Association (NSGA), which has been active in West Africa for over 25 years.  All funds raised from the Love4Gambia project will finance programs to educate youth about preventable diseases, such as HIV/AIDS and malaria, through interactive presentations, peer education, theatre, community cinema, and radio programs. Through these initiatives, the NSGA provides young people in the Gambia the knowledge and skills to build healthier and stronger communities.

One of Canada`s flagship running events, the Tamarack Homes Ottawa Race Weekend, is scheduled for May 26 – 27, 2012.  This event, which features a 2 km youth run, a 5 km, 10 km, half marathon and full marathon, is attended by more than 40,000 participants, including a field of international elite athletes.

The Chocolate Race is held annually in Port Dalhousie, Ontario and the race course follows the shores of Lake Ontario in the scenic Niagara region.  The event offers a 5 km, 10 km and a 16 km run or walk supported by chocolate stations along the way.  Runners and walkers can then indulge at the Port Dalhousie Chocolate Fest following their run or walk.  This year`s event will be held on Sunday, April 29, 2012.

The Scotiabank Blue Nose International Marathon Weekend will take place from May 18 – 20, 2012 and features a variety of events for all fitness levels – from walkers or runners. From the 4.2km youth run to the 42.2km full marathon, there is something for everyone including a 5km, 10km and Half Marathon (21.1k) event.  Approximately 12,000 participants will take to the streets of Halifax and Dartmouth, Nova Scotia during Blue Nose weekend.

To learn more about Love4Gambia and its charity running teams, please visit www.Love4Gambia.com.   For more information about the Nova Scotia – Gambia Association, please visit www.novascotiagambia.ca.

For details about the Tamarack Homes Ottawa Race Weekend, the Scotiabank Blue Nose International Marathon and the Chocolate Race, please visit www.runottawa.ca, www.bluenosemarathon.com, and www.thechocolaterace.com respectively.

 -30-

 Contact:

Andrea Moritz                                                    Nova Scotia – Gambia Association

andrea.moritz@rogers.com                            Muhammed.ngallan@novascotiagambia.ca

Phone: 613-421-3621                                      Phone: (902) 423-1360

Mobile: 613-868-0265

www.love4gambia.com                                  www.novascotiagambia.ca

Ottawa Woman to Run 424 km Across The Gambia for Children’s Health

For immediate release                                                                                                             November 18, 2011

OTTAWA – Today marks the official launch of the Love4Gambia 2012 project, which will see Ottawa runner Andrea Moritz traverse the West African nation of The Gambia in June 2012 in support of health education aimed at keeping Gambian kids alive.   Andrea’s run will start in the town of Koina on The Gambia’s Eastern border and will finish in the capital city of Banjul on the West coast.  Funds raised from the project will support the Nova Scotia – Gambia Association (NSGA), a registered charity, which has worked with West Africans and Canadians to build healthier communities in The Gambia for over 25 years.

“I have travelled and run in Africa on a number of occasions and have developed a tremendous passion for its vibrant and friendly people,” said Andrea.  “But I have also seen that there is much we can do to prevent the spread of diseases like HIV/AIDS and malaria, which claim too many lives each year.  Love4Gambia presents an opportunity to raise awareness of these issues and to contribute to a solution.  I am proud to be affiliated with this project and excited by the prospect of running across an entire nation, even if it is the smallest on the continent of Africa,” she added.

Funds raised from the Love4Gambia project will finance programs to educate youth through interactive presentations, peer education, theatre, community cinema, and radio programs. Through these initiatives, the NSGA provides young people in The Gambia the knowledge and skills to build healthier and stronger communities.

Halifax nurse and NSGA board member Erin Poirier took on the inaugural Love4Gambia project in 2011, completing the run in 17 days and raising $35,000 for the Nova Scotia – Gambia Association.

“As a member of the NSGA’s Board and a nurse, I have seen first-hand how the money we raise significantly improves the lives of young people in The Gambia,” stated Erin.  “Each and every one of us can make the world a better place, one community at a time.”

Andrea plans to run approximately 30 kilometers each day to cover the 424 kilometer distance from Koina to Banjul in 14 days next June/July.  As this time of year falls into the rainy season, extreme weather conditions can be expected, including dangerously high humidity.

“I wouldn’t be a true runner if I didn’t have a little competitive spirit in me,” said Andrea.  “Erin raised $35,000 with her campaign in Halifax last year.  I am counting on the generous support of my community to exceed that amount,” she challenged.

To follow Love4Gambia’s progress, learn about upcoming fundraising events or to make a donation, visit www.Love4Gambia.com.

-30-

Contact:

Andrea Moritz                                                                                                 Nova Scotia – Gambia Association

andrea.moritz@rogers.com                                                                     exec.director@novascotiagambia.ca

Phone: 613-421-3621                                                                                  Phone: (902) 423-1360

www.love4gambia.com                                                                              www.novascotiagambia.ca

Backgrounder

Andrea Moritz started running in her early teens inspired by one of her favourite uncles.  They logged many miles together on the trails in her native Germany, where she lived until the age of 18.  In 1988, she strapped a race bib to her chest for the first time to participate in the Vancouver Sun Run.  Andrea ran her first marathon in New York City in 1996 and has completed numerous standard distance marathons (42.2 km) in Europe and North America since then (personal best: Dublin Marathon, 3:17:04).

While living in Halifax and Ottawa, Andrea competed in the sport of triathlon for a number of years and participated in two age-group World Championships (New Zealand 2003 and Hawaii 2005).  In 2008, she was ready to take on a new challenge and began ultra-distance running.  She has successfully completed three Comrades Marathons in South Africa, a road race of some 89 km between the cities of Durban and Pietermaritzburg (www.comrades.com).  Her personal best time over this distance is 8:36:30 (2011) and she was the fastest female participant from North America in 2009.  Andrea is also the official Comrades Marathon representative for Canada.  Andrea further completed ultra races, such as the JFK 50 Mile run in Maryland, USA (placed 7th woman) and the 100 km Röntgenlauf in Remscheid, Germany (placing 2nd female).

Andrea lives and trains in Ottawa with her partner Marc Pelosse and works for Transport Canada as Manager of Communications.

**********

The Nova Scotia – Gambia Association (NSGA) has worked with West Africans and Canadians to build healthier communities in The Gambia for over 25 years. Through education and health promotion initiatives, NSGA staff and volunteers have become an integral part of youth and community development in West Africa.  Its peer education programs have generated greater awareness of health issues and preventative health measures while developing valuable leadership skills in the country’s youth, making the NSGA a major force in youth education in The Gambia.

NSGA programs include interactive presentations, peer education, theatre, community cinema, and radio campaigns. Through these initiatives NSGA provides youth and communities the knowledge and skills to build healthier stronger communities. In addition to health education programs, such as sexual and reproductive health and malaria prevention, NSGA’s areas of expertise also include gender equity, environmental sustainability, and landmine sensitization.  In 2009, the NSGA trained 3,934 youth peer health educators, tested 2,760 individuals for HIV, and presented 144 videos on HIV, malaria and landmines in community markets.

Current NSGA Projects

Advancement of gender equity & youth leadership through health and human rights education

  • NSGA works in 75 schools across the country. In each school, 20 students are trained as Peer Health Educators. Peer educators and teacher coordinators spread important health messages to their peers, families, and communities through interactive teaching methods including drama, theatre, and oral presentations. An estimated 50,000 Gambians will benefit from these community health presentations. In addition, 300,000 Gambians (almost 25% of the population) will receive these health messages through state television, radio, and print.

Malaria education & prevention

  • NSGA works in partnership with the National Malaria Control Program and other non-governmental organizations in The Gambia to decrease fatalities due to malaria. Once again peer educators are used in schools and to be a resource for their communities regarding prevention and treatment of malaria.

Landmine awareness and child rights advocacy

  • NSGA partners with The Gambia Armed Forces, experts in landmines, to answer community concerns regarding landmines in affected areas in the Cassamance area of The Gambia and Senegal. The NSGA has also developed educational films on how to identify landmines and areas of high risk.  Large warning signs were also erected in high risk areas and information bulletins are provided for in affected communities.

 For more information about The Nova Scotia – Gambia Association and its projects:   www.novascotiagambia.ca

**********

The Republic of The Gambia is the smallest country on the continent of Africa.  With a total area of 11,295 km2, this West African nation is approximately twice the size of Prince Edward Island.  It is geographically surrounded by Senegal and borders the Atlantic Ocean to the West.

The country’s climate is tropical with the hot, rainy season lasting from June to November and the cooler, dry season spanning the period from November to May.

The Gambia’s population totals 1,797,860 (July 2011 est.), of which 40 per cent are under the age of 14.  This makes it roughly equal to the population size of Eastern Ontario.  2009 estimates put the adult prevalence rate of HIV/AIDS at 2.1 per cent (compared to 0.3 per cent in Canada)and the number of persons living with HIV/AIDS at 18,000 (CIA World Fact Book).  While the Government of The Gambia has confirmed its commitment to fighting HIV/AIDS and directs some domestic resources towards this cause, there is a heavy reliance on external sources of funding with 96 per cent coming from international organizations.

In 2010, malaria along killed 1000 Gambian children before their fifth birthday.  Compare that to Eastern Ontario, with an equal population size, where the reported annual child mortality figure is 16 deaths[1].

[1] Mortality rates are from www.unicef.org and the Eastern Ontario Health Unit’s report “Child Health Status in Eastern Ontario, 2005 (http://www.eohu.ca)

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