PUPILS at St Mary’s Grammar School are ensuring the London 2012 legacy lives on after rubbing shoulders with Olympic canoe slalom champion Etienne Stott in Belfast.
Despite the dust having settled on the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games more than a year ago, memories of that unforgettable summer remain fresh at St Mary’s.
A handful of pupils attended a Get Set to Make a Change workshop at Queen’s University Belfast where they were given expert advice from London 2012 gold medallist Stott and former Paralympic champion Natalie Jones.
They were also offered support and ideas to plan a community project as the scheme bids to encourage people to come together, using the Olympic and Paralympic Games as their inspiration.
Diarmuid Logan was one of those St Mary’s pupils and, after meeting Stott and Jones in the flesh, he is now bursting with ideas for their plan to host their very own Commonwealth Games.
“At the Get Set workshop we learned lot of new experiences and teambuilding skills that will help the community project we are doing,” the 17-year-old said.
“Our school is thinking about putting on a big project as we want to do a Commonwealth Games so we can help a few younger children experience what we went through last year with the Olympics.
“By trying to put on a Commonwealth Games obviously a lot of problems could come up so we were just learning how to forward plan so we could overcome any issues or problems.
“It was also great to meet the athletes. Etienne has a very good knowledge of the Olympics and what it is like to be there and so does Natalie with the Paralympics and it was good to learn from them.”
The Get Set to Make a Change programme will inspire almost 5,000 teenagers through 23 roadshows in 12 cities across the UK to deliver pledges of support to their community.
And, with his dream London 2012 still fresh, canoe slalom double champion Stott admitted it was an easy decision to throw his weight behind St Mary’s and the innovative new programme.
“The excitement the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics generated was massive and for me it is important it is not confined to that year but leaks into society and brings change and makes a difference to people’s lives for as long as possible,” Stott said.
“I just want to help generate energy and excitement and I really want to just tell people that they can make a difference that not only makes you better but the people around you better to and that is the great thing about this programme.”
Through GSTMC, the British Olympic Foundation, in conjunction with the British Paralympic Association is using the spirit of the London Games to re-inspire young people across the UK. The project is being supported by a £2.5m grant from the Big Lottery Fund’s Keeping the Spirit of 2012 Alive campaign. http://www.makeachange.org.uk/