Written by Senior Tennis Editor Peter Gehr
More than just a top seeded women’s tennis player and fashion designer, Maria Sharapova engaged in foundation to help children. Her main focus is sports based scholarships to help kids directly affected by the Chernobyl disaster in Belarus.
Sharapova has donated large sums of money towards this project, and works in affiliation with the United Nation Development Program (UNDP). This coalition unites the sports star with the initiatives of the UNDP, and represents the organization as an ambassador.
It’s always great to see stars giving back, and it’s often an overlooked activity that most professional tennis greats are actively involved in. Most of the top ranking tennis players have their own foundations and pursue these projects and visit areas where children are in unfortunate situations that need assistance.
Having a role model such as Maria Sharapova stepping up to the plate and giving of her time and reaching deep into her pockets is truly inspirational, and Tennis Daily News wishes to acknowledge and promote Maria’s work and efforts by providing this link to anyone who would like to contribute to this worthy and needy cause.
Maria Sharapova Engaged in Foundation to Help Children
Maria is launching a $210,000 scholarship programme for students from Chernobyl-affected areas of Belarus. The programme is a joint initiative of the Maria Sharapova Foundation and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), where she serves as Goodwill Ambassador. The scholarships will enable 12 talented young people from Chernobyl-affected regions to follow a full course of studies at two leading universities in Belarus.
Maria’s foundation has already contributed $100,000 to youth-oriented projects in the regions of Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine affected by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident.
Maria was expected to travel to Belarus to launch the scholarship programme in person this month, but was forced to postpone her visit in order to receive medical treatment for a shoulder injury that prevented her from participating in the Beijing Olympics and the US Open. Her visit is now planned for 2009.
“It has always been my dream to contribute to the recovery of a region where I have a personal connection,” said Maria, who has family roots in Gomel, Belarus. “Enabling talented young people to pursue higher education is part of a broader effort to build a brighter future for the region.”
“UNDP is honoured to count Maria Sharapova among its Goodwill Ambassadors,” commented Kemal Derviş, UNDP Administrator. “Her engagement helps to convey a message of optimism to young people in a once-blighted region where a return to normal life is now a realistic prospect.”
The Maria Sharapova Foundation Scholarship for Youth from the Chernobyl-Affected Areas of Belarus — as the programme is called — will award five-year scholarships consisting of annual cash grants to 12 students at the Belarusian State Academy of Arts and the Belarusian State University. The programme aims to assist talented students who might otherwise not have an opportunity to attend university. The Maria Sharapova Foundation will select the scholarship winners from shortlists prepared by the universities, working together with UNDP and the Ministry of Emergencies of Belarus, which is responsible for Chernobyl programmes. Three incoming students will be awarded scholarships each year, over an initial four-year period. It is the first instance in Belarus in which an international non-government organization will provide support of this type to education. The first scholarship recipients will begin their studies in September 2009.
Maria was born in 1987 in Nyagan, Siberia, after her family fled Gomel in the wake of the Chernobyl accident. She later moved to the Black Sea town of Sochi. In 1995, Sharapova became a full-time student at IMG’s Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Florida. In 2004 she won her first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon and was named World Tennis Association player of the year. In 2006, she won the US Open, and in 2008, the Australian Open.
UNDP coordinates the UN’s work on Chernobyl and implements recovery projects in Belarus, the Russian Federation, and Ukraine, the three countries most affected by the Chernobyl accident. These efforts strive to promote healthy lifestyles; support community-based initiatives that improve living standards and encourage self-reliance; and provide policy advice and advocacy services on Chernobyl. (Original article here)
With Maria Sharapova engaged in foundation to help children it shows the athlete’s values are solid and compassionate to those in need. The Chernobyl disaster continues to its lingering affect and its projects such as this that will make a difference and provide much needed assistance to the children and families in the communities of Belarus.