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December 7, 2016

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Amway applauds its army of volunteers

IT was International Volunteer Day on December 5th, and Amway (China) took time out to thank its all volunteers in Shanghai, who have been devoting time and care in the company’s charity activities, including the Special Olympics projects in the past decade.

As the world’s leading brand in health and beauty, Amway (China) started supporting Special Olympics as early as 2005 when it donated 6.5 million yuan (US$945,000) to the organizing committee of 2007 Special Olympic World Summer Games in Shanghai.

It followed it up by establishing a volunteering team to participate in Special Olympics Unified Sports activities. It also donated 1 million yuan to Shanghai Charity Foundation and Jiangsu Disabled Persons’ Federation, respectively, in 2006 to help those with special needs.

“It’s the social responsibility of a big company to take part in charity affairs, but to keep doing something for over 10 years, that’s what we are proud of,” said Anna Liao, Director of Area Public Affairs, Amway (China).

Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organization for children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Together with global partners, it provides year-round training and competitions to more than 5.3 million athletes and Unified Sports participants in around 170 countries.

At unified activities, Special Olympic athletes are partnered with volunteers in competitions, during which their self-confidence, social competence and self-esteem are built up.

“The 2007 Special Olympics in Shanghai provided us with an opportunity to get in touch with the organization, and it was its positive and encouraging spirit that kept us closely connected. The cooperation will last for a long time,” Liao told Shanghai Daily.

“Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt,” this is the oath taken by the athletes at the Special Olympics. To assist the special group of people in their brave attempts is the task of Amway’s volunteers, who keep in heart the company’s motto of “helping people live a better life.”

Amway’s Special Olympic volunteers are mainly its staff and Amway Business Owners, mostly in their 20s and 30s. The best-known member is probably Xu Chuang, a former Special Olympic athlete and Global Messenger.

People meeting Xu for the first time might not consider him different from other office workers. The phenylketonuria, or PKU, victim has been working for Amway (China) in Shanghai since 2007. Xu has been nicknamed “China’s Forrest Gump” due to his sunny disposition and love for sports, especially running and soccer.

Suffering from PKU, an inability to metabolize phenylalanine that causes brain and nerve damage if left untreated, Xu would be unwilling to talk to others due to his poor memory and communication skills. But his love for sports gave his parents an idea of getting him involved in society.

In 2003, Xu was selected to play in China’s Special Olympic soccer team, and managed to bring back a silver medal with his teammates at the World Summer Games in Ireland.

Joining Amway (China) has made Xu more independent. He started by doing simple jobs like delivering company magazines and making copies of files, and then got involved in the company’s charity activities, especially Special Olympics projects.

He even started his own voluntary workshop since the end of 2014 and pays regular visits to intellectually disabled people, as well as the elderly people in community centers.

Amway (China) also encouraged Xu to explore his potentials: learn English, make PPT and learn basic sign language. Seeing Xu’s communication skills improving, Amway (China) sent out a message that people like Xu have value as long as they are given a chance. Respect and care from others will help them find positions in society.

In 2014, Shanghai’s Amway (China) volunteers invited young athletes from Jiuquan Special School in northwestern China’s Gansu Province to take part in the 3rd Shanghai Sunshine Inter-City Invitational Unified Race in November.

During the one-month preparation ahead of the race, the volunteers trained and lived together with the young athletes, making friends with them and winning their trust. They eventually became the team champions beating 28 teams from Spain, Australia, the US and China.

In 2015, the company took part in Special Olympics’ “Unified School” project, sponsoring 40 student representatives from Peking University and Foreign Language School affiliated to Shanghai International Studies University to travel to Los Angeles for a summit held during the 14th Special Olympic Summer Games.

To get the student representatives prepared for the summit, which was themed “how to promote unification between the disabled and the society,” Amway organized training sessions in its Shanghai office and asked volunteers share their stories of previous unified activities.

To mark the first China Charity Day on September 5, 2016, Amway (China) volunteers joined hands with counterparts from other local companies and organized activities for intellectually disabled children on Huaihai Road M neighborhood. They raised plants in flowerpots made of recycled containers of Amway’s products, which were made of degradable material.

For the 4th Shanghai Sunshine Inter-City Invitational Unified Race on October 21, 2016, Amway (China) sent three teams of 40 Special Olympic athletes and volunteers, and organized trainings for two months ahead of the event.

The three teams also took part in a unified running activity featuring a total of 500 Special Olympic athletes and volunteers in front of the China Art Museum the next day. The activity served as part of the 2016 Amway Nutrilite Health Run, and created a China Records of “the largest-scale unified race.” The company also donated 15 yuan to Shanghai Charity Foundation for each runner at the Amway Nutrilite Health Run.

“Our volunteers help the Special Olympic athletes, and at the same time are being influenced and encouraged by them,” said Liao, who was impressed by volunteer Tao Wenjie, who insisted on taking part in the unified run despite an injury. Tao was a member of Amway’s team consisting of volunteers and students from Jiuquan Special School.

He was cycling on a rainy morning toward the venue for the unified race and accidently fell from the bike and broke his canthus. However, he insisted in competing in the race instead of making the team call for a substitution.

“We have trained for so long and built up mutual trust. A substitution will affect the result,” Tao told his colleagues. “I have been deeply touched by the children’s naivete, innocence and persistence during the days we spent together. They need me and I can’t let them down on an occasion like this. It’s a meaningful moment for me as well.”

Liao said the experiences have helped the volunteers develop a better personality.

“The intellectually disabled people need company and a platform to express themselves, while our volunteers learn to care and respect others when getting along with them. That’s why Special Olympic projects have always been well received in the company.”


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