Fighting sexual exploitation through table tennis

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Ping Pong-a-thonBy Tim Lam

What started out as a small event by 15 men has grown into a nationwide campaign encouraging boys and men to tackle sexual exploitation.

Ping Pong-A-Thon is an awareness-raising and fundraising campaign that takes place in local churches, sporting clubs, schools and pubs. Men play table tennis for three hours and are sponsored by their family and friends. The money raised from the marathon supports organisations in South East Asia addressing human trafficking.

The concept for Ping Pong-A-Thon started in 2011 when Australian Adrian Rowse visited Thailand and saw firsthand the injustice associated with the global sex trade. He became convinced of the important role that men have to play in being part of the solution rather than the problem.

Mr Rowse started a 24 hour table tennis marathon with 15 of his friends and collectively raised $10,000.The group set about connecting with churches, schools and community groups to expand it into a nationwide event.

Last year, the High Street Road Uniting Church in Mount Waverley was the highest fundraiser in Australia, collecting over $15,000.

Steve Lowe, organiser of the Ping Pong-A-Thon at High Street Road Uniting Church, said 65 boys and men participated in last year’s event.

“It’s a great opportunity for dads and granddads to engage with the sons and grandsons in a fun way that has a deeper meaning and purpose,” Mr Lowe said.

“Christians can also invite mates that are not followers of Jesus to get involved in this social justice issue, which is another key opportunity.”

More than 40 venues throughout Australia will be hosting a Ping Pong-A-Thon this year. An estimated 1,500 boys and young men are expected to participate and organisers are hoping to raise $200,000.

High Street Road Uniting Church in Mount Waverley and Glen Waverley Uniting Church will both be hosting a Ping Pong-A-Thon on October 30-31. Visit www.pingpongathon.com to register and find an event in your local area.

 

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