PyeongChang 2018: spreading the Olympic message to young people near and far
Since its launch in 2004 - the year that saw PyeongChang unveil its bid for the 2018 Winter Games -2,028 young people from 84 countries as diverse as Afghanistan, Togo and Uruguay have taken part in the Dream Programme, an annual initiative hosted by Gangwon Province.
The programme is designed to offer young people from countries with little exposure to snow the opportunity to take part in a winter sports training camp, providing them with an introduction to snow and ice sports, teaching them about sporting values and giving them an insight into Korean culture.
The Dream Programme has served as a launchpad for a number of sporting success stories, with almost 200 participants going on to compete at various international competitions, including the Olympic Winter Games themselves. Competing at PyeongChang 2018 was Malaysia’s first-ever Winter Olympian, figure skater Julian Yee, who was a Dream Programme participant in 2009.
The Dream Programme is not the only initiative that is continuing to spread the Olympic message in the Republic of Korea. The Olympic Education Programme has seen over 7.5 million students nationwide take part in education initiatives, prior to and since PyeongChang 2018.
Through the programme, elementary, middle and high school students have been given the opportunity to learn about winter sports, familiarise themselves with the meaning of the Olympic values and play an active part in the Olympic Movement.
It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment to meet Olympians in person leading up to the Games.Minhui Kim
One of the main thrusts of the programme has been to empower girls in sport and teach the importance of gender balance and inclusion.
“It was a once-in-a-lifetime moment to meet Olympians in person leading up to the Games,” said Minhui Kim, a student from PyeongChang High School, who took part in the Olympic Education Programme in 2018. “I was surprised to be able to communicate with them in English, and that inspired me to study harder. These are memories I will cherish and will never forget.”
Another local participant in the programme, Yerim Shim from Jinbu High School, added: “I was able to directly meet with and engage with athletes thanks to this programme! Up until then I was only able to watch the Olympic Games on TV, but now I am able to visit Olympic venues anytime I wish.”
To date, there have been over 830,000 visitors to the Olympic Education Programme portal, while nearly 115,000 Korean teachers have undergone training in Olympic values education. The programme continues to run today with educational and sport outreach projects taking place around the country.