Young Change-Makers in action!
From the beginning of the Olympism in Action Forum, when five youngsters appeared on stage to welcome more than 1,600 participants, young people were the heart of the key conversations during the ground-breaking event in Buenos Aires, held from 5 to 6 October.
Playing an active role were over 100 Young Change-Makers (YCMs) who were invited to the Forum to bring a youthful perspective to discussions on issues such as healthy lifestyles, anti-doping and generating social change through sport.
The YCMs were particularly involved in the “working zone” sessions, which mostly consisted of panel discussions, interactive tasks and Q&As. It was a common sight for a YCM to stand up to take the microphone and share a thoughtful viewpoint to the distinguished audiences, while in some cases YCMs featured on the panels themselves.
For example, Nicky Van Rossem, who was selected as a YCM by the Belgian Olympic Committee back in 2016 for the Youth Olympic Games Lillehammer 2016 and who is reprising her role for Buenos Aires 2018, shared the stage alongside senior leaders in the “Protecting Athletes: Education & Deterrence” debate on the opening morning.
“I really enjoyed that we had a discussion, and I was impressed that [the panellists] wanted to change the same things – even though we’re coming from different backgrounds and cultures, and we’re all working in our own ways,” she said.
“The Forum was a great opportunity for the Young Change-Makers+, but also for young people in general, to spread our positive work, and get the world to listen to us.”
Each of the working zones and plenary discussions were attended by members of a 14-strong drafting committee, who shared the outcomes with each other and collectively put together action-oriented recommendations for presentation to the IOC Session. Half of the committee are YCM alumni, who themselves have gone on to deliver social projects in their communities as part of the YCM+ Programme supported by Panasonic. Among those on the committee are Samantha Miyanda, who also found time to give a speech to Forum participants about the girls’ mentoring programme that she founded in Zambia.
“The youth are the future, so it’s important that we are at the Forum to present our input,” said Miyanda. “I’m very grateful that the IOC invited us, so that we can learn, grow and contribute to the development of sports, and inspire young people to take up leadership roles.”
Elsewhere, 19-year-old YCM Fernanda Russo – a silver medallist in shooting at Nanjing 2014 – interviewed Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodríguez Larreta in the main hall about the impact of the YOG on the city’s youth, while Valery de Falbaire was one of three YCMs+ who pitched their ideas for sustainable sporting initiatives to Nobel Peace Laureate Muhammad Yunus, in a youth-focused interactive session.
As the Young Change-Makers made their way from the Forum to the Obelisk for the Opening Ceremony, they had already left their mark on Buenos Aires, as important, youthful voices among leaders from sport and society. Excitingly, their work at the YOG is only just beginning.