When the IOC announced the composition of its commissions in April this year, it appointed seven Young Change-Makers (formally Young Ambassadors) to give a greater voice to young people at the heart of the Olympic Movement.
Representing diverse backgrounds and cultures, six of these new IOC commission members are women, which further boosts the female representation on the IOC commissions.
Six of them have also been involved in the Young Change-Maker+ (YCM+)Programme, a social entrepreneurship programme that invites YCM community to apply for up to CHF 5,000 to support them in delivering their own grassroots projects designed to make a real and positive impact in their community through sport.
Olympic.org spoke with them to find out their thoughts on their new role and the impact they can have.
Angeliki Kordali (31), a YCM from Greece who supported the young athletes of her delegation at the first YOG Singapore 2010 aims to put her PhD in wireless communication to use on the new Digital and Technology Commission. “Digital, information and communication technologies play a significant role in many aspects of the Olympic Games and the Youth Olympic Games. In this IOC Commission I will bring my expertise in the field of electrical and computer engineering and especially on communications in order to provide a solid technical framework. I will also add my enthusiasm and passion for the Olympics!”
Guatemalan YCM Gabriella Matus Bonilla (28) was in Nanjing 2014 and Lillehammer 2016, “I feel very honoured to be part of the IOC Women in Sport Commission and to represent my country. I am sure it will be a unique experience in my life and career. I can contribute my passion in women’s empowerment and I can bring not only my ideas of project development from my previous jobs, experiences in women’s commissions and knowledge, but also my interest in increasing the participation of women in sports, especially in developing countries.” Gabriella is part of the Young Change-Makers+ (YCM+) Programme. She collaborates with the NGO United Play to deliver sports activities and healthy living workshops in disadvantaged Guatemalan communities to help youth to face social challenges and fight inequality and poverty.
Lode Goossens (32) from Belgium acquired his YOG experience at Innsbruck 2012, “I'm especially excited to be part of the Athletes' Entourage Commission, where I will try to be the voice of young people working with athletes, be it on a grassroots level or in a professional context. They are the ones who have a genuine impact on the athletes they work with and a lot depends on them to shape the future of sports.” Lode put a lot of passion and energy into youth coaches’ education. He developed a YCM+ project that helps young athletes in swimming to develop their fundamental motors skills.
Ana Maria Stratu (24), the YCM for Moldova in Nanjing 2014, aims to use her sporting experiences to the benefit of the IOC Women in Sport Commission: “As an athlete, an organiser and an administrator, I believe that my diverse experiences and relatively young age will add a new blend to the Commission.” Part of the YCM+ Programme in 2016 and 2017, Ana Maria organises a women’s karate festival in her country to promote sport and physical activities and to ensure that sport becomes more accessible to all women.
Jeannette Small (28), YCM from Trinidad and Tobago in Nanjing 2014, organises workshops in schools using traditional games to teach students how to eat a healthy snack in the framework of her YCM+Project. She joins the IOC Olympic Education Commission. “I feel blessed to be the first person from Trinidad and Tobago to be selected as a Member of the Olympic Education Commission. As a young person, l am encouraged to continue pursuing my journey as a sports entrepreneur. I am passionate about working with young people and creating sport and educational programmes that will help their holistic development. Being part of this Commission will provide me with a wealth of experience and allow me to impact so many lives through sport.” Jeannette wants to fight against NCDs, reinforcing positive behaviours through the promotion of active and healthy living among school kids.
Together with Jeannette, Vera (27) from Ukraine, an Olympian in Beijing 2008 in rhythmic gymnastics and a YCM at Lillehammer 2016, is also part of the IOC Olympic Education Commission. Vera delivers a series of practical school-based workshops on the Olympic values across her home country. “The main goal of my project is to involve young students in sport not only as athletes, but also in different roles. I hope my experiences will be useful for the IOC and for the further development of Olympic education in the Olympic Movement.”
Chilean YCM in Lillehammer 2016 Josefina (23) is a strong believer in sport as an important tool in social change and development. Last year, she ran a YCM+ project that brought sport to disadvantaged communities around her university. “It is a great honour and opportunity to be part of the IOC Public Affairs and Social Development through Sport Commission, and to have a voice in such matters that are so important for me,” said Josefina.
“My participation in Lillehammer opened my eyes to the power of sport and of the Olympic values to change the lives of young people. I want to play my part, and the IOC decision to appoint us to several of its Commissions and to support some of our community projects is an encouraging sign of a movement which entrusts and empowers young people. This is so important today,” concludes Josefina.Here is the full list of the Young Change-Makers and the IOC commissions to which they have been appointed.