Lagos, Nigeria, May 1, 2015: It was all fun and excitement as Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited joined hands with Special Olympics Nigeria, YEDI, and Exxon Mobile to commemorate World Malaria Day with a campaign entitled: “Kick Against Malaria” on Friday, May 1, 2015 at St. Finbarr’s College, Akoka, Yaba, Lagos.

The event which had about 2000 people, comprising women and children, in attendance provided a great platform for “special” children to mix up with other regular children and express themselves freely in a Unified Football match made possible by YEDI’S grass root soccer initiative.

The event was a viable means to showcase the power of soccer as an effective platform to educate, mobilize and empower Nigerians with the relevant information about not only malaria prevention, but also HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.

Speaking on the initiative, the National Director, Special Olympics Nigeria, Ms. Naomi Saliu-Lawal said, “We look forward to a time when casualties from malaria will be very much reduced and people will be better able to manage malaria. Meanwhile, we will continue to educate people about malaria and provide health care services as much as we can with help from our partners”

The high point of the event was the Unified novelty match between special children and regular children. The game which was in two batches had the children in a rush of adrenaline as they played heartily and happily. In the end, the winning team emerged and their joys knew no bounds as they were gladly danced to the songs oozing out of the Disc Jockey’s speakers.

Emeka Mba, Community Affairs Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited spoke on why the company supported the initiative,‘Coca-Cola has sponsored several health initiatives including Nets for Life- Africa Regional Programme on Malaria. The programme covered 16 countries across Africa and distributed 1 million long-lasting Insecticide-Treated Mosquito Nets. It focused on the vulnerable population, mainly children under 5, pregnant women, the chronically ill and the elderly’.

Coca-Cola will continue to support malaria awareness initiatives in Nigeria said Sam Umukoro, Communications Manager, Coca-Cola Nigeria Limited. “Of the 300 million malaria cases reported in the world, 90% of deaths occur in Africa, which includes Nigeria. We know malaria can be controlled and we will create as much awareness as possible to help people learn the importance of keeping their surroundings clean and consulting a doctor when they notice certain symptoms. Coca-Cola believes that a healthy society is a wealthy society, so we will not relent in our efforts to support similar causes”

It was indeed a successful event as parents and children trooped out en mass to be a part of the occasion despite the blazing sun and the fuel scarcity in the country. Expressing her delight, a parent of one of the special children, Mrs. Bukunmi Larinde said” I am happy that my child is made to feel among and is provided with free medical check-up. I am very grateful to the organizers”

Other activities carried out included free malaria testing and treatment, family health forum as well as health talk on Malaria and HIV/AIDS. The guests were urged to eat healthy, keep surroundings clean, use mosquito net and to visit the doctor as against self-medicating.