The first-ever Youth Olympic Games (YOG) kick off in Singapore. Between 14 and 26 August, about 3,600 young athletes from all corners of the world will get together to participate in high-level competition in 26 sports – and in a customised Culture and Education Programme (CEP) during their free time. The programme, which will be tested for the first time, is filled with more than 50 fun, interactive and educational activities and aims to encourage the young athletes to learn and share, and build to friendships with their peers.
Providing important tools for life
“We want to equip them with the skills to make reasoned, intelligent decisions in life” says IOC President Jacques Rogge, explaining: “The programme will last the duration of the Games and cover a host of topics, including the benefits of leading healthy lifestyles, the dangers of doping, and the value of friendship, solidarity and fair play. We want to provide the athletes with the tools to take ownership of their futures. If they choose to continue with sport as a career — some may even go on to become future Olympians — they must be fully aware it is not a lifetime occupation. Even the greatest athletes typically end their sporting careers in their 30s. Communicating with athletes in their teens, who are potentially more receptive than their elder peers, is crucial.”
All the CEP activities will centre on the five themes of Olympism, Skills Development, Well-Being and Healthy Lifestyle, Social Responsibility and Expression. Various international organisations, including three UN agencies, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC),, the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), the International Olympic Academy (IOA) and the International Fairplay Committee (CIFP) are supporting the IOC and the Singapore organisers to implement these activities.
More than 50 activities
The young athletes can choose from over 50 CEP activities which will be delivered in different ways. Workshops will be held in the Athletes' Village to educate them about healthy lifestyles and the prevention of injuries. During chats with Olympians and other role models, the youngsters will learn about personal experiences of top-level athletes: what worked for them and what they would have done better to avoid. Through exhibitions and interactive booths, the YOG participants can explore global topics such as their personal carbon footprint, HIV prevention, children’s rights and first aid measures. They can also learn more about Olympic history and the value of fair play.
Discovering Singapore and its locals
The “World Cultural Village” will feature cultural booths, hosted by Singaporean Youth, which will present the more than 200 participating National Olympic Committees. Drumming and circus arts activities will be another opportunity for the young athletes to mingle with locals. During the evenings, there will be festivals in the Athletes’ Village with an exciting mix of music and dance performances as well as art installations. However, the young athletes will also have the opportunity to get out of the venues and discover Singapore and its surroundings. Island Adventure will bring them to one of Singapore’s offshore islands to participate in team-building and water activities. They can also embark on a green experience during a trip to HortPark and Marina Barrage, two of Singapore’s newest environment-themed attractions.
From athlete to ambassador
“The key is to present the information in a manner that the athletes find both enjoyable and relevant to their lives” concludes Rogge, adding: “At the end of the day, success depends on to what extent the athletes are willing to accept and embrace the information they receive. It is our great hope that the athletes will act as ambassadors and be active in their communities by sharing what they learn when they return home from Singapore.”
Find out more about the Culture and Education Programme over the next few days on www.olympic.org.