“I have learned a ton about leadership, the culture of London, and everything in between. I feel coming home I will be completely different, equipped with more leadership skills and the wisdom gained from this trip.”
Hearing those words and knowing their meaning for the youth who said them is the greatest reward of The Playmakers Program. This teen is just one of 50 youth from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom who spent five action-packed days in London to take part in the 2012 Olympics through our Playmakers Program.
Several organizations were involved, including Youth Unlimited (Canada), S.O.S. Outreach (United States), LEAP (London Education and Arts Programme), and London Sports Trust. While these groups may have different models of youth outreach, the goals of each organization all have a similar theme – to improve the lives of youth by providing opportunities for teens to learn more about themselves while developing new, positive skills. This is closely aligned with the objective of the Playmakers Program, which is to inspire and guide youth to be leaders in their own lives and communities.
Despite being a part of different organizations back home, the youth easily came together as one unit. Participating in fun events, such as the field day mini-games designed by the program’s mentors, and traveling together during the trip, the teens forged friendships and bonded over this special opportunity. The youth were also spectators at various Olympic events, including badminton, gymnastics, cycling, and volleyball.
Bob Beamon, winner of the gold medal for the long jump in the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City, took some time to share his life story with the Playmakers. Mr. Beamon holds the Olympic record for the long jump, and made it to that point only after overcoming some of the greatest odds people face today. The tale of his hardships and his determination to succeed despite the obstacles, was quite remarkable and resounded with the youth, many of whom are facing their own life struggles. In thank-you letters to Mr. Beamon, youth wrote:
“You’ve had a tougher life than I, but you were able to change paths, and if you can do it then so I can I. Today I shall be a better person than I was yesterday.”
“Some people have no idea the kind of stuff other people go through to get where they are today. Hearing you’re story gives me hope that good, hard-working, honest, persevering people are still out there.”
The Foundation for Global Sports Development is honored to have had the opportunity to connect these youth, all from different walks of life and locations, to this opportunity to experience the Olympic movement. Our hope was that these teens would see the possibility and importance of stepping up to life with courage and ethics as they create their future. By looking at the pictures and reading the notes these youth wrote, we are certain our hope has been fulfilled.
“The leadership and support we got from staff was excellent and I developed great relationships with leaders as well as my peers. What a great opportunity – I would recommend this opportunity to other young people.” – Saoirse
“I had such an amazing time but had to leave but I can never forget this experience probably the best time of my life.” – Waleed
When we asked parents to tell us what their favorite part of the Playmakers experiences was, we heard things like:
- “Seeing our child change from such a positive and eye opening experience.”
- “Listening to my son who talked non stop about what he got up to on the trip.”
- “To see my son’s excitement before the trip and the joy on his face when he came back.”
Take a look at our adventures in London!