The inaugural Youth Olympic Games are about far more than just medals. That’s because alongside the exciting sports competition that will take place in Singapore, the YOG will also feature an extensive Culture and Education Programme (CEP), which aims to introduce young athletes to Olympism and the Olympic values, and to raise awareness on important issues such as the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, sustainability and the fight against doping. It will also help to prepare them better for their future career, whether that is in top-class sport or some other area. This unique element will set the YOG apart from other youth sports competitions and follows the YOG’s original aims to educate and engage young athletes, inspiring them to play an active role in their communities, and to embrace, embody and express the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect.
“The Culture and Education Programme at the YOG is as important as the competition itself,” explains IOC President Jacques Rogge. “There are already world championships and junior world championships for most Olympic sports, so there was no need to create something that would mimic what the sports federations are already doing. But I felt that there was an element missing in the traditional pattern of world youth championships and that’s the education part.”
The CEP in Singapore will feature a variety of different activities, such as interactive workshops, community projects and exhibitions, with each aspect allowing participants to interact with other young people from around the world while learning about important issues, developing their skills, and embracing the Olympic values.In total, there will be more than 50 CEP activities taking place during the Games, with each one linked to one of the five educational themes: Olympism, Skills Development, Well-Being and Healthy Lifestyle, Social Responsibility and Expression.
Activities include several ‘Chat with Champions’, which will give participants the chance to interact with Athlete Role Models, such as former Olympians, who will share their own stories about the Games and inspire the young athletes through their experiences of living the Olympic values.
‘Island Adventure’, will take the athletes to one of Singapore’s offshore islands – Pulau Ubin – where they will work in teams to complete confidence-building challenges, such as rock climbing and raft building. ‘Exploration Journeys’ to two of Singapore’s newest sustainability-themed attractions – HortPark and Marina Barrage –will enable participants to learn more about how to protect and conserve the environment. There will also be ‘Community Projects’ involving local beneficiaries, ‘Arts and Culture’ activities involving music and dancing, and ‘Discovery Activities’, which will feature interactive workshops and hand-on exhibitions that are linked to the CEP’s key themes.A ‘World Culture Village’ will be set up in the Youth Olympic Village, with cultural booths representing each of the 205 National Olympic Committees where the young athletes can learn more about other countries that are taking part in the YOG.“The programme will teach them invaluable skills for the future both inside and outside the world of sport,” explains Sergey Bubka, Chairman of the IOC’s Coordination Commission for Singapore. “They will build friendships with other young athletes from around the world and get the opportunity to experience new cultures.”
The Games-time CEP activities, most of which are held in the Youth Olympic Village, will be integrated with the sport competition schedule, allowing athletes to participate in the activities during their free time. They will be encouraged to take part through the Athletes’ Challenge reward programme, which allows participants to record what activities they’ve taken part in and receive prizes.
But it is not just the athletes who will be enjoying the CEP. Non-athletes are also being encouraged to participate in the activities through two global initiatives set up by the IOC – the Young Ambassadors and Young Reporters programmes.
For the IOC Young Ambassadors Programme, a number of NOCs have each nominated a young representative – between the ages of 18 and 24 – who will join their country’s delegation in Singapore and help inspire their athletes to take full advantage of the CEP activities that are on offer.
The Young Ambassador programme is an experimental pilot programme, representing all five continents and aiming to achieve a good balance between young men and women (in fact 60% of the Young Ambassadors in Singapore will be female). The IOC Young Reporters programme, meanwhile, is providing 26 young journalists from around the world with the opportunity to travel to Singapore to report on the YOG, where they will live in the Youth Olympic Village alongside the athletes and be given specialised media training from senior sports journalists.
Working alongside the Young Ambassadors, 60 CEP Champions have also been chosen from Singapore, who will encourage athletes to get involved in CEP activities during the Games. The CEP Champions will facilitate the CEP games time for those NOC athletes who don’t have a Young Ambassador. They are Culture and Education Programme representatives.