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BLOG: What is International Inspiration ?
Wherever I travel overseas people rush to congratulate me, as a representative of London and the United Kingdom, on “the best Games ever”. Just as people in Newcastle, Nairn and Neath get goose bumps remembering Super Saturday and reliving Katherine Grainger’s long-awaited, dream-come-true gold medal moment, Norwegians, Namibians and New Yorkers cherish their memories of the golden and largely sun-kissed summer of supreme sport and world class welcome that was London 2012.
Glorious as it is to bask vicariously in that shared glow of national pride and international recognition, my own memories of what was special about London 2012 never made the news headlines and never featured on the front, or back, pages of the newspapers. Here are 12 of my personal wow factors:
- Seb Coe’s promise that if London hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games young people all around the world would connect with the inspirational power of sport was met by the International Inspiration programme which has now reached 15.6 million and still counting.
- International Inspiration connected schools from across the UK with schools in 20 other countries to create a global network of young people inspired by sport.
- Thanks to International Inspiration it is now the right of every child in Azerbaijan, whatever their ability, to enjoy sport as part of their education.
- Thanks to International Inspiration 160,000 children aged 4-10 have learned to swim in flood prone Bangladesh, where over 17,000 drown each year.
- An International Inspiration-inspired physical education curriculum is spreading through the most populous states of India, touching the lives of millions of children in Indian schools.
- In Ghana, locally trained young sports leaders are helping to spread health messages and increase school enrolment, especially among girls, through the medium of sport.
- Every child in Turkey now has 5 hours of sport and physical education every week in their first year of schooling, thanks to International Inspiration.
- In Sindh province of Pakistan, where thousands of schools were destroyed by devastating floods in 2010 and 2011, sport offered by Temporary Learning Centres has been a critical element in helping those children and families to rebuild their lives.
- In northern Uganda, child soldiers and other refugees returning to their homelands are being brought together to learn and to reconstruct the fabric of their communities through sport.
- International Inspiration didn’t come to a halt when London 2012 was over and the cameras and journalists moved on.
- In July this year, the ground-breaking spirit of International Inspiration was enshrined in the launch of a new charity, also called International Inspiration (or IN for short) chaired by London 2012’s iconic leader, Seb Coe.
- IN is now open for business with a mission to work in partnership to inspire, empower and transform lives through sport for many years to come.
My personal gold medal achievement comes from being part of a team that made a huge leap of faith to honour London’s promise to inspire a generation across the world in a way that no Olympic and Paralympic host city has ever committed to do before.
IN will continue to run programmes based on its namesake. The charity is also acting behind the scenes to campaign for the safeguarding and protection of children in sport, to improve standards of community coaching and to promote gender equality, inclusion, education and livelihoods through sport.
I hope that IN will inspire thousands of friends and supporters to help us grow the scale and impact of that important work.
Debbie Lye is Director of International Development at UK Sport and Director of International Inspiration. For more information on UK Sport, visit www.uksport.gov.uk