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As part of the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Culture and Education Programme (CEP), thousands of young athletes and coaches in Nanjing’s Youth Olympic Village were taught about important social and health issues they face in their daily life via fun, interactive and imaginative games and workshops at dedicated booths hosted by partner international organisations.
Lifesaving skills: road safety, first aid and humanitarian values
During the two-week gathering, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) hosted daily walk-in activities and educational workshops. Themes ranged from humanitarian values and road safety, which remains the main cause of death among young people, to first aid and the IFRC’s flagship initiative, Youth as Agents of Behavioural Change (YABC), which is a programme seeking to empower individuals to take up an ethical leadership role in their community.
“Although the CPR activity required serious engagement on our part, we found it special and rewarding,” said Ugne Mazutaiyte, a young athlete from Lithuania. The success of the IFRC’s booth was such that many young participants recommended activities and training to their team mates, resulting in between 150 and 200 young athletes, National Olympic Committee (NOC) officials and volunteers being trained each day on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), bleeding control and caring for common sports injuries.
Sportsmanship, team spirit and fair play at the core of athletes’ lives
The Fair Play Pavilion proposed by the International Fair Play Committee (CIFP) taught young athletes the basic principles of fair play and how the written and unwritten rules of sportsmanship can be adopted in their daily lives. Engaging materials presenting the history of some of the most interesting fair play heroes were also featured and distributed to the visitors, who not only got the opportunity to get involved in the activities but also had the chance to share their own fair play stories from on and off the sports field.
On visiting the booth, Athlete Role Model Erin Carafo (USA) commented: “Fair play is extremely important in sport. If you are a professional athlete, you have to respect the performance of the others. The spirit of sportsmanship develops in you when competing. Without being fair, you cannot get to the top.”
Promoting Olympism and a culture of peace
The athletes’ response to the International Olympic Academy (IOA) and International Olympic Truce Centre (IOTC) joint booth was overwhelming.
The main aim of the activities proposed by the IOA was to provide the athletes with valuable knowledge on the origins and the history of the Olympic Games as well as help them approach Olympism as a philosophy of life. Among the most popular activities were the quizzes on the ancient and modern Olympic Games and the “map of the world” game. The booth attracted the participation not only of athletes, but also coaches, team officials and Athlete RoIe Models.
Through a combination of interactive displays and instructive workshops developed by the IOTC, athletes were exposed to the Olympic principles and values underpinning peace and the promotion of peace. The IOTC used a unique combination of self-access learning and face-to-face sessions to encourage athletes not only to understand and remember the importance of social inclusion, equality of opportunity and recognition of diversity in the development of world peace, but also to assess, evaluate and adapt their opinions in the light of discussion and teamwork.
Raising awareness on HIV and AIDS and promoting safe, healthy behaviours
The United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) booth provided a chance for hundreds of visitors to learn more about HIV/AIDS and how to protect themselves. It was also the opportunity to get some insight into the athletes’ level of awareness on HIV and AIDS, and to reflect on the issues of stigma and discrimination around it.
Those knowing the basic information about HIV demonstrated greater compassion and solidarity to young People Living with HIV (PLHIV). They not only encouraged them to live and stay strong, but also reminded other young people to treat young PLHIV with respect and dignity.
With the Youth Olympic Games at an end, and with these young athletes playing an active role among their peers and within their communities, it is hoped that HIV and AIDS awareness, as well as the increased knowledge of other global social and health issues, will continue to grow and spread beyond Nanjing!