james annanGhanaian child rights activist, James Kofi Annan and his Challenging Heights organisation have been declared winners of the 2013 edition of the World Children’s (WPC) Prize Award.

James Kofi Annan beat two other shortlisted child rights heroes – Kimmie Weeks (Liberia) and Sompop Jantraka from Thailand for the top award with his work to stop child slavery.

The announcement was made at a news conference in Stockholm, Sweden ahead of the presentation ceremony by Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden, who is a patron of WPC. The Award, which also comes with an undisclosed amount will officially be presented to Mr. Kofi Annan at Gripsholm Castle in Mariefred- Sweden this week.

The World Children´s Prize [WPC] is Swedish-based organisation which promotes child freedom and children’s rights all over the world. Three top child right promoters are nominated annually out of which a winner is selected for exceptionally working to promote children’s rights.

Mr. James Kofi Annan has won several international awards including that from Free The Slaves organisation in the US. James himself was a fishing slave as a child, for seven years.

He managed to escape, get an education and become a bank manager. Six years ago, he left the bank to work solely to stop child slavery. At that time, he had already started an organisation called Challenging Heights, in 2003, which had liberated over 500 children from slavery.

James believes that poverty causes slavery, and education combats poverty. Liberated slave children come first to Challenging Heights’ safe home for 65 children. The children have had difficult experiences, and are given rehabilitation and security. When they are strong enough, they can return home to their parents and attend an ordinary school. It can take a year before they are ready.

Challenging Heights also runs a school for 700 pupils of different ages. They offer training and loans to poor mothers so that they can support their families and not have to sell their children into slavery. Through 21 Child Rights Clubs, Challenging Heights teaches 630 vulnerable children about the rights of the child and campaigns against slavery. Through his work and Challenging Heights, James has supported over 10,000 children who have been slaves or at risk of slavery.

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