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Mercedes-Benz and Laureus to help the underprivileged through sports

By Ma Zhenhuan | China Daily | Updated: 2015-04-15 08:01

With people celebrating excellency in sportsmanship at the Laureus Sports Awards ceremony in Shanghai on Tuesday evening, Mercedes-Benz, a long-time partner of the event, geared up for another campaign with Laureus to enable children from China's underdeveloped areas to better enjoy sports.

The German premium marque announced yesterday that it would forge a strategic partnership with the Laureus China Sport for Good Foundation to provide sports programs to children from hope schools across the nation.

The automaker said it would also upgrade its corporate social responsibility strategy in China, a move it said showed its commitment to the long-term development of the nation.

Laureus, an international charity founded by Daimler and Richemont, is comprised of the Laureus World Sports Academy, the Sport for Good Foundation and the World Sports Awards, collectively they are committed to improving the lives of young people around the world through sports. The Academy is a body of 50 iconic athletes who lend their time and profiles for Laureus' core projects: The Sport for Good Foundation, a charitable initiative to make positive social changes through sport, and The World Sports Awards, often referred to as the "Oscars of Sport", which this year to be held in Shanghai on Wednesday evening.

Mercedes-Benz, as a committed, long-term partner of Laureus in various global projects over the past 15 years, has always shown a strong dedication to helping underprivileged children in the areas where it operates. From supporting after-school activity coaches in New York in response to city budget cuts to AIDs awareness in Mali, there seems to be no issue that Mercedes-Benz and Laureus won't tackle through sports. Mercedes-Benz's dedication to inspiring young people through sports is unwavering. With projects in 34 countries across 5 continents, and having supported 1.5 million children through the power of sports, Laureus can be considered the world's premier sports-based charity organization.

China is a particularly important place for both Mercedes-Benz and Laureus, not only because it is the largest car market and a major sporting nation. Neither organization is a stranger to China, each having already left beneficial footprints across the mainland.

In 2007 Mercedes-Benz started its first CSR initiatives in China, as one of the first automotive manufacture, focusing on environmental protection and social care activities. In 2010, together with its dealer partners and the China Youth Development Foundation, the Mercedes-Benz Star Fund was established to stretch engagement with social causes further, contributing to the sustainable social development and helping people in need, especially the young people.

With this history of supporting social initiatives in China, Mercedes-Benz has become an official partner of Laureus, with particular focus on the Sport for Good programs.

"Daimler fully embraces and supports the great ways in which Laureus changes the lives of these children," Hubertus Troska, board member of Daimler AG, chairman and CEO of Daimler Greater China Ltd, said in a speech at the partnership announcement ceremony. "In fact, Laureus is one of many ways in which we strive to make a difference, worldwide, and especially in China. For good reason - more and more, China is becoming a second home for us."

Mercedes-Benz on Tuesday announced the company would establish joint cooperation with Laureus, particularly in China, to use sports as a tool to inspire youths to embark on the constant pursuit of a bright future, to overcome challenges, and find their place in life. According to the announcement, Mercedes-Benz will partner with Laureus Sport for Good Foundation China through multiple key channels, including the Hope School for Good Project, which includes training Hope School teachers and in 2015, and will target 129 Hope Schools, to mark Mercedes-Benz's 129 year anniversary. By 2016, they hope to train 1,000 Hope School PE teachers covering 400 Hope Schools across the nation.

The Laureus Leaders and Trainers Project helps to develop expertise among a core group of trainers who will then be able to train other individuals and organizations in communities as Laureus Leaders. Laureus will also select 10 university students who will learn to be trainers. As long as the program is promoted in China, the number of Laureus trainers and leaders will keep increasing exponentially and a monitoring and evaluation initiative will partner with key universities to ensure the effectiveness and real impact of the Sport for Good programs across China through comprehensive assessment.

Troska said: "We attach great importance to China, keep increasing our investment in a wide range of fields in China and commit to sustainable development in China. The fulfillment of our corporate social responsibility is a strong proof of our firm commitment to this market. We are pleased to be able to provide support for the development of Laureus sports charity programs in China."

"China is a very important market for us. and it is also important for us that we give back to the society and the country," he added.

Nicholas Speeks, president and CEO of Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co, highlighted the synergies created by the Laureus-Mercedes-Benz partnership. "When people work with one mind, they can even move Mount Tai" he said. "Our shared values and commitment to make a lasting and positive impact is what drives us."

He made his speech at the launch of 16 units of the limited GLA 260 4MATIC Laureus Special Edition in honor of the strategic cooperation with the foundation. It is the first exclusive limited edition model produced by Mercedes-Benz for CSR. The cars will be sold via WeChat only, and the revenue will be donated to the Mercedes-Benz Star Fund for Laureus sport for hope school programs in China.

"Performing corporate social responsibility is the core of our brand," Speeks said. "We have long been committed to making our due contribution to China's social sustainability as a responsible corporate citizen. As an old Chinese saying goes, 'Unity leads to every success'. We will donate the proceeds of these cars to Laureus charity programs in the owners' names with an aim to encourage more people to devote themselves to charity and attract more civil forces to promote the harmonious development of China's society with us."

Laureus Academy members including Yang Yang, Mikka H?kkinnen, Franz Klammer, Mike Horn and Mick Doohan were present at the announcement of the partnership.

On Tuesday, in Shanghai's Pudong district, dozens of students from Bo Ao Lei Shing Hong Voluntary Primary School enjoyed group activities with Laureus and Mercedes-Benz's star ambassadors, including Ned Wills, Deng and Horn, along with Mercedes-Benz's senior executives, dealer and NGOpartners and. Laureus trainers organized 3 training sessions, including basketball, football and martial arts, for the students at the school, demonstrating, the spirit of cooperation through sport. The visitors also donate sports equipment, stationaries and books to the school.

"I am very happy to see the new milestone of Mercedes-Benz's corporate social responsibility endeavors in China, focusing on sports," said Li Hongpeng, senior executive vice-president, Beijing Mercedes-Benz Sales Service Co and chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Star Fund Management Committee, "We believe in and are firmly committed to be a responsible social corporate citizen. Similarly, we believe in the power of sports - like our partner Laureus - to inspire, to educate and to change. The beauty of sports is its inclusiveness and power to inspire. With Laureus, we hope to reach out more children in need."

The school visit kick off Mercedes-Benz and Laureus sport for hope school program in China, aiming to help 129 hope schools in 2015, while also benefitting over 40,000 children.

The visit served as a prelude to further visits by Laureus, which intends to have teacher trainers visit two schools per region to quantify results and provide support to enhance school facilities.

In addition to its partnership with Laureus, Mercedes-Benz also announced upgrading its CSR strategy on Tuesday to create an open platform to increase accessibility and inclusiveness. The platform will allow more stakeholders to take part in social cause campaigns by contributing expertise, thus benefiting more young people and communities in the long run.

Mercedes-Benz has long acknowledged that economic success and corporate social responsibility go hand-in-hand. It is one of the earliest automakers to initiative Corporate Social Responsibility programs in China, first focusing on environmental protection, but soon followed by a series of initiatives on social care.

Since 2010, Mercedes-Benz, together with its dealer partners and the China Youth Development Foundation, set up the "Mercedes-Benz Star Fund" with an initial fund of 30 milllion yuan ($4.83 million). It has operated under the slogan "Nurturing the Best of all our Tomorrows" to support education, music, art and sports, the culture of driving, social care and environmental programs in China.

By the end of 2014, the company had contributed about 100 million yuan to its five CSR pillars, reaching more than 1 million people across 29 provinces and autonomous regions in China.

Ma Zhenhuan in Shanghai contributed to this story.

 Mercedes-Benz and Laureus to help the underprivileged through sports

Sports celebrities witness Mercedes-Benz and Laureus starting a new journey of partnership on social cause on Tuesday.Photos Provided To China Daily

Mercedes-Benz and Laureus to help the underprivileged through sports 

Nicholas Speeks unveils GLA Laureus special edition to be sold online in the name of charity for the first time.

 Mercedes-Benz and Laureus to help the underprivileged through sports

Deng Yaping, the fi rst Chinese Laureus Academy member, enjoys sports with children from hope school.

(China Daily 04/15/2015 page15)

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