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Childnet Internet Award Winners Announced in Washington, D.C.

By Damon Marturion
New Business News Staff Writer

Awards Ceremony Focuses on the 'Dot Hope' Effect of the Net

WASHINGTON - United States-based project myhero.com was among the Childnet International award winners, announced tonight as cyberspacers from around the world were honored at the National Geographic auditorium in Washington, D.C.

This annual children's Internet Awards program, sponsored by Cable & Wireless, rewards children and those working with them who are developing outstanding Internet projects which benefit other children worldwide.

This year's program attracted more than 200 entries from 47 countries, and the 10 finalists came to Washington, D.C. from Australia, Canada, Germany, Hong Kong, The Netherlands, Finland, the United Kingdom and from across the U.S.

The Childnet judges were not just looking for technical expertise or sophisticated web design work, but rather for how children are using the Internet to connect and engage with others and break down barriers.

Trey Smith, chief technology officer, Cable & Wireless Global and president, Cable & Wireless Global, North America, said, ``We at Cable & Wireless are proud to host the Childnet Awards in the U.S. for the first time, and to be involved in the highly successful Childnet International program which inspires children around the world to experience today's new communications technology. These Childnet winners are the technology leaders of the future.''

In the Individual Category, Oli Watts, a 15-year-old from the United Kingdom, won first place for his website, www.pupiline.net, which he produced after being bullied at school. In just nine months, he recruited a team of young people to write, design and publish a young person's webzine, which tells his story and addresses some of the key issues facing young people today.

The winner in the Non-Profit Category, US based www.myhero.com, produced an interactive educational website that allows children of all ages the chance to share their heroes.

Through a simple web page builder kit, students can share their stories while at the same time learn from the insights and concerns of students from around the world.

The Schools category was won by Athens District High School in Canada, where students worked with schools in the US and Japan to develop Netvision, an online interactive TV network, and developed a website for the Canadian Aid for Chernobyl organization.

Cooperation across borders was a theme in the schools category. 2nd prize winner in the category, Animal Diaries was created by children at schools in the US and the Netherlands working together. Their website now connects animal lovers from 49 schools in eight countries.

Graham Wallace, chief executive of Cable & Wireless plc, was in Washington, D.C. to present the top Childnet Award in the Schools Category and said: ``Cable & Wireless has sponsored the Childnet Awards for four years. It is an immensely successful program, and Childnet has established a worldwide reputation for encouraging children to use the Internet both creatively and safely. As the digital divide debate continues, these awards demonstrate how children from different backgrounds around the world can really benefit from the Internet.

``To support the digital divide effort further, I am pleased to announce today that Cable & Wireless will be sponsoring a new award category, `New to the Net.' `New to the Net' will give recognition to innovative ideas and projects that don't yet have a website and enable them to develop and achieve a real impact on children around the world,'' said Wallace.

The winner in the Government Category, sponsored by Alcatel, was Cambridgeshire County Council. Their project, http://www.actis.co.uk/superhighway/ provides pupils with a real-time role play experience involving the emergency services.

The complete listing of the placement of the ten finalists and more information on all the winning projects can be found at: http://www.childnet-int.org/awards/.

One of this year's Childnet Award judges, Trond Waage, the Norwegian Ombudsman for Children, says, ``At a time when there is less `public space' in which children can express their feelings about their lives, we are seeing in the Childnet Awards how children are using the Net to share their lives, create and inspire others, and form a new online `community' which is not restricted to national boundaries.''

. . . watch for more stories coming soon  

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