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08 Dec 2010

Youth given the floor at 7th World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture

Singapore 2010 Young Reporter Alan Harris reports from Durban, South Africa.

“Giving a Voice to Youth” was the slogan of the recently-concluded 7th World Conference on Sport, Education and Culture; and give a voice to the youth it certainly did. Organized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in partnership with UNESCO, the Conference was held between December 5th and 7th in the welcoming city of Durban, South Africa.

A wide cross-section of speakers and presenters were drawn from the world of sport, Universities, NGOs and governments and the more than 450 international delegates were treated to in-depth presentations on topics ranging from 'Empowerment through Sport' to 'Sustainable Development'.

But judging from the broad smiles and rapturous applause, easily the most thought-provoking and insightful session was the 'Youth Caucus'; the final plenary session of the three-day gathering.

Hosted by the IOC Olympics Games Department, the 'Youth Caucus' was specially designed to hear from the young people themselves who were present in Singapore for the successful launch of the first-ever Youth Olympic Games.

Held this past summer, the inaugural YOG saw 3,600 young athletes - between the ages of 14 and 18 - competing in 26 different sporting disciplines. As part of a well-received Culture and Education Program(CEP), the athletes were eagerly joined by 30 Young Ambassadors and an equal amount of Young Reporters. With all participants of the Games involved, the CEP initiative was the cornerstone of the YOG.

A handful of the young athletes, ambassadors and reporters - representing countries such as Barbados, Austria, Singapore, Brazil, New Zealand, Slovakia and South Africa - took to the stage and gave a first-hand account their experiences during the historical and ground-breaking YOG.

Joined on stage by some local South African students, many of the YOG participants described the experience in Singapore as 'life-changing'. With heart-warming images from the YOG as a backdrop, they vividly recounted the friendships they made and events they witnessed. Understandably, words such as 'incredible', 'exciting' and 'unforgettable' were constantly thrown around.

In a light-hearted, yet informative 90-minute session, the IOC's revolutionary CEP initiative was given a rousing 'thumbs up' from the entire youth caucus. The 7th World Conference was opened by Jaques Rogge, President of the IOC and Getachew Engida, deputy Director-General of UNESCO. The United Nations has declared the period following August 2010 the “Year of Youth”. Activities at all levels within UN Agencies will therefore focus on the contribution of young people to world development and peace.

(Alan Harris)

Tags YOG
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