Worldwide Olympic Partner Panasonic has supported the IOC’s Young Leaders Programme since 2017, giving young people around the world the chance to make a positive impact in their communities.
The IOC Young Leaders Programme aims to promote social entrepreneurship through sport by engaging and supporting the next generation of inspirational sports leaders. Through seed funding of up to CHF 5,000, the programme gives participants the opportunity to create positive change in their communities through grassroots projects that leverage the power of sport. The initiative has so far supported 116 projects worldwide, with Young Leaders using sport to promote themes such as education, social inclusion, sustainability and well-being, reaching more than 25,000 people in communities across the globe.
Since 2017, the Young Leaders Programme has been supported by Worldwide Olympic Partner Panasonic, which has provided additional funding to be used as project grants, as well as audiovisual equipment to capture the progress of the diverse range of projects. Panasonic’s backing has also made it possible to develop and expand the programme, with the latest cycle seeing more than 50 new and ongoing initiatives receiving support. In addition, and for the first time, as part of its youth empowerment approach Panasonic will offer one of the Young Leaders the opportunity to do an internship at the company later this year.
Here, we speak with Panasonic project managers Yasuhiro Fukuda and Desiree Orum to learn more.
How did Panasonic become involved with the Young Leaders Programme?
Yasuhiro Fukuda: When we started to discuss collaborating on this project, it was largely based on Olympic Agenda 2020, which included a pillar focused on youth. Looking at the future of the Olympic Games and the Olympic Movement, as an Olympic partner, we were looking for ways to collaborate, to help evolve and move in the direction set out in Olympic Agenda 2020. We had a lot of confidence in this programme and saw a lot of opportunities. We ourselves were trying to reach out to younger generations, using the power of the Olympic Games, and we thought the programme was full of possibilities in that respect. We also saw the potential of these young people to make a difference, to create a better world, and that fit well with our own philosophy.
How does the programme align with Panasonic's own goals and values?
Desiree Orum: Our philosophy is "A Better Life, A Better World”. We try to provide, through technology, better and more fulfilling lifestyles to people around the world. And that's where we see the overlaps with the Olympic philosophy, where the Olympic Movement is trying to create a more peaceful and better world through the power of sport. We as a company are trying to help society and make the world a better place, and we saw the possibility in sport of reaching that goal.
Through your involvement in the programme, what have you been most impressed by?
DO: That's a very good question. I have been working with the Young Leaders very closely, especially when we invite them to Japan to do different kinds of workshops. I’m pretty close to them in age, but I am still really impressed by how passionate and eager they are about changing society, making an impact on people's mindsets and in life. We do workshops with the Young Leaders in schools, and I've heard so many comments from the students saying how, even in the limited time of the workshop, the interaction with the Young Leaders has changed the way they look at sport, and changed the way they look at life in general. They help the students become more positive, and the students are then really eager to do something themselves. That's where I have been most impressed.
Has Panasonic, as a company, been able to learn anything from its involvement in the programme?
DO: In the past, we have perhaps worked within our company, provided technology, and that was it. But now we are more aware of the power of the younger generation, and we’re trying to be more on track with them, so that we are providing something that is actually beneficial to them. Working with the Young Leaders, we are able to get insights from them, to hear what they’re thinking. We are then able to reflect that in our business, so it has been very productive in that way and a very good opportunity.
Are there any other benefits that Panasonic has gained from being involved with the programme?
YF: Engaging with the youth and getting a better understanding, a better awareness of this generation, has been very beneficial. Also we have been proceeded to collaboration with our existing assets (especially “Kid Witness News” which is our CSR programme), in order to make valuable synergies. On the other hand, we are inspired this grass roots project then we have launched our original project SPORTS CHANGE MAKERS” last year for collaborating with youth generation. Based on that we could achieve better brand image from them last year. As a company, I think this can contribute to us being more youth oriented.
How do you see Panasonic's involvement in the programme evolving in the future?
YF: This project is not just a short-tenure project. We see this as a long-term partnership with the Young Leaders so that they can get started, gain valuable experience and then use this experience in the future in their own lives and careers. Therefore, each project proceeds to a new step. And we would also like to continue collaborating with them in many different areas, not just sport.
DO: We would like to expand our involvement and work even more closely with the Young Leaders, trying to provide them with our specific skillsets and assets. This could maybe be through hosting technology workshops, or supporting them in terms of using our audiovisual camera equipment, to better share their stories with the world.
Watch this space for exciting news about the development of the IOC Young Leaders Programme and how you can get involved – coming soon!