The third edition of Olympic and Paralympic Week (Semaine Olympique et Paralympique, SOP) was officially launched on Monday at Dora Maar Secondary School in Seine-Saint-Denis, northern Paris, with more than 1,000 projects extolling the values and benefits of sport getting under way in educational establishments from nursery schools to universities across France.
Running until 9 February and supported by the French Ministry of Education and the sports movement, Olympic and Paralympic Week is central to the Paris 2024 educational programme, which promotes education through sport and puts civic and sporting values at the heart of learning.
Dora Maar Secondary School was chosen for the launch because of its proximity to the future Paris 2024 Athletes’ Village. Attending the event were Paris 2024 President Tony Estanguet; Jean-Michel Blanquer, the French Minister for Education and Youth Affairs; Roxana Maracineanu, the French Minister for Sport; and Sophie Cluzel, the French Secretary of State in charge of Persons with Disabilities.
“Olympic and Paralympic Week is a key annual event in Paris 2024’s educational programme,” explained Estanguet. “Every year, it shines the spotlight on the positive impact that sport can have, beyond the staging of the Games, by using it and its benefits and values as a driving force for change. We believe in the power of sport. We believe that sport has a contribution to make to a more active, more inclusive and outward-looking society. School is a vital place for passing on these values and for promoting positive behaviour in children from a very young age.”
We believe in the power of sport. We believe that sport has a contribution to make to a more active, more inclusive and outward-looking society.Tony Estanguet
Former two-time Olympic handball champions Daniel Narcisse and Thierry Omeyer, Beijing 2008 Paralympic Games long jump champion Arnaud Assoumani and London 2012 Paralympic swimming gold medallist Charles Rozoy were among the athletes present.
They took part in lessons using sport as an educational tool and spoke to the students about the values of sport, particularly diversity and the need to be more active, as well as participating in sporting activities.
Representing France’s Generation 2024 athletes were 14-year-old table tennis player Prithika Pavade and Tallya Brillaux, a boxing silver medallist at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018, with the pair pitting their skills against Olympic medallists Jean-Philippe Gatien and Sarah Ourahmoune.
Aujourd'hui, nous avons fait bouger la #Generation2024 du collège Dora Maar en @seinesaintdenis pour le lancement de la Semaine Olympique et Paralympique. Qui de mieux que nos 2 journalistes en herbe Alicia et Ibrahim et leurs camarades pour vous raconter cette journée #SOP2019👇 pic.twitter.com/6zDFMmL9yk— Paris 2024 (@Paris2024) February 4, 2019
Generation 2024 and the Paris 2024 educational programme
Blanquer and Maracineanu presented Dora Maar Secondary School with an official Generation 2024 certificate in recognition of its initiatives to encourage young people to take up sport.
Since its creation in 2018, the Generation 2024 certification has been awarded to almost 1,000 educational establishments in France, and recognises schools that make sport a focal point of their education.
This involves running projects with sports clubs, taking part in SOP, National School Sports Day and Olympic Day - held annually on 23 June - welcoming and supporting elite athletes, and allowing others to use their sporting facilities.
Superbe lancement de la semaine #olympique et #paralympique ce matin avec les amis @Emmline14 @SarahOurahmoune @mariealefur @rozoycharles @Thierry_Omeyer @DanielNarcisse @ et les élèves du collège #DoraMaar. Très belle énergie ! On continue... ☝️😀#SOP2019 #Generation2024 pic.twitter.com/eY8EiMC7Yz— Arnaud Assoumani (@ArnaudAssoumani) February 4, 2019
What is Olympic and Paralympic Week?
Olympic and Paralympic Week is an annual event which is designed to promote sport among young people, with civic and sporting values at the core of education. It has been part of the national Ministry of Education syllabus since 2017, and is being rolled out to every educational establishment in France and its overseas territories at all age levels.
It aims to raise students’ awareness about the values of Olympism and Paralympism; encourage youngsters to take up sport and become more active; and get sport to be used as an educational and recreational tool.
It also seeks to introduce students to Olympic and Paralympic disciplines, change the way they view disability, and encourage youngsters to take up voluntary activities and be civic-minded.
“During the course of this Olympic and Paralympic Week, I am hoping to see both able-bodied and disabled students discover the sheer range of sports that are out there, and to find a sport that they want to play,” commented Secretary of State Cluzel. “It is up to the sports movement to swing into action and develop disability and adaptive sport at clubs. Sport offers a wonderful opportunity for our society to change and become more tolerant and open to others. It is a vehicle for fulfilment, empowerment and meeting others, especially when disabled and able-bodied athletes can excel themselves as one and nurture their sense of community, performance and togetherness.”
Une journée de #partage magique et un brin nostalgique en retournant à @villedaubagne à la rencontre des jeunes pour parler @Paris2024 lors de la #SOP2019. Tous derrière #Generation2024 🇫🇷👊🏼 pic.twitter.com/jPNv1KaQAt— Alain BERNARD - OLY (@alainbernard) February 5, 2019
A thousand projects across France
Nearly 1,000 schools – almost double the number in 2018 - are taking part in France and overseas, thanks to the Agency for French Education Abroad (AEFE).
Throughout the week, around 100 athletes are visiting schools and educational establishments to share the Olympic and Paralympic values and their own passion for sport, and to explain how sport can improve health and well-being.
Among them are Olympic gold medallists Alain Bernard (swimming) and Jerome Fernandez (handball), and current Paralympic athletics champion Nantenin Keita.
Paris 2024 President Estanguet is also visiting six schools across the country.
Sports Minister Maracineanu said: “Sport teaches tolerance, integration and respect for diversity and rules, and instils a culture of progress. It is also a valuable educational tool in terms of science and history. Olympic and Paralympic Week is an important step on this path because it celebrates the values of sport, a useful contributor to the common good that it is our responsibility to share with our country’s youth.”