Small’s healthy Caribbean crusade
One of the 104 Young Ambassadors at the Youth Olympic Games Nanjing 2014, Jeannette Small subsequently became part of the IOC’s YA+ programme, promoting healthy and active living to Youngsters in her native Trinidad and Tobago
How did you become involved in the IOC’s Young Ambassador initiative?I was selected to be a Young Ambassador in Nanjing while I was working at the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee, planning events with a youth focus such as the Olympic Youth Camp and Olympic Day.
What did your role in Nanjing involve?I promoted the Learn & Share programme among our young athletes, providing information on tours and activities during the Games and encouraging participation. The activities were interactive, some utilising digital elements. Different cultures around the world were showcased, and serious messages on topics such as anti-doping were incorporated.
What is your favourite memory of your time in China?My most memorable experience of the Games was accompanying the athletes on the Learn & Share activity outside the Olympic Village at the City Wall of Nanjing, where they learned how to make bricks, fly a kite and spin a traditional Chinese diabolo.
How did you become part of the YA+ programme?I submitted a proposal to the IOC on the Healthy and Active Living theme in November 2015, which sought to address the growing problem of childhood obesity and lifestyle diseases. The focus was to promote eating less high-fat foods, salt and sugar, eating more fruit and vegetables, drinking water and increasing physical activity.
What was the next stage in your work?An educational programme was developed which coordinated with the outreach activities of the Ministry of Health in Trinidad and Tobago. The experts facilitated engaging discussions on healthy lifestyles with schoolchildren.
And how did you get your message across?The children played traditional games and sports, such as badminton, to emphasise the importance of exercise. They were also helped to identify fruits and vegetables and indulged in a fruit snack made with our locally grown pineapple and watermelon. Reish Baboolal, a famous artisan, also created a mascot using the wire-bending technique that is frequently used by our local artists to create traditional carnival characters. And Youth Olympic sprinter Kashief King was also on hand to inspire the children with his life experiences and talk about his sporting achievements.
Your YA+ initiative finished in March this year. What are your plans for the future?I hope to continue partnering with organisations with similar objectives to provide engaging, fun and interactive learning experiences for children. I hope to develop innovative projects and events surrounding sports and games with social messages through my business. I also plan to continue my education and have applied to pursue the Master’s Degree Programme entitled ‘Olympic Studies, Olympic Education, Organisation and Management of Olympic Events’ at the Olympic Academy and the University of Peloponnese.
The YA+ pilot scheme was launched in September 2015 to encourage the international community of YAs to activate their learnings and experiences and pass on their knowledge and passion to others, becoming social entrepreneurs in their communities. The initiative invited the YA alumni to submit their own projects or provide plans to extend existing projects based around four themes of Olympism, i.e. Peace & Development, Healthy Active Living, Sustainability and Inclusion. The IOC offers seed-funding up to CHF 5,000 and project management support to empower YAs seeking to make the world a better place through sport. In 2017, 20 projects have been approved and supported by the IOC.