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International Inspiration is London 2012's international legacy programme


International Inspiration is London 2012's international legacy programme

London 2012's International legacy programme promised to leave a lasting legacy around the world, enriching lives and engaging millions of youth. Debbie Lye discusses the social impact and lessons learned.

by Debbie Lye

London 2012 Olympics reaches youth worldwide

International Inspiration fulfils the pledge made by Seb Coe to the IOC that if London hosted the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games they would ‘reach young people all around the world and connect them to the inspirational power of the Games’.

London won, the rest is history. International Inspiration’s vision of enriching the lives of 12 million children across 20 countries worldwide is unique. No previous host nation has aspired to engage millions of global youth as a social legacy commitment.

Joining forces with UNICEF and British Council
Lord Coe’s promise was not in the host city contract and so did not feature in LOCOG’s plans. I was running an international sport development programme at UK Sport. I offered to help and LOCOG asked me to develop a plan. The ambitious vision came easily and when UNICEF and the British Council became our partners we knew it was achievable.

A flourishing legacy
International Inspiration started in 2007 and will continue until 2014. 13 million children and young people have been reached. Funded programmes last for 3 years, but we measure success by whether initiatives inspired by International Inspiration are sustained. We know that in Brazil, India and Azerbaijan, two years after completion, the legacy is flourishing. We are proud of that.

Lessons learned
We have learned much by working across 20 diverse countries from Azerbaijan to Zambia and with populations from 21,000 to 1.2 billion.

  • Sport genuinely is inspirational for children and young people everywhere
  • People – teachers, coaches and young sports leaders - are the most valuable resource. If they are empowered they will carry on enriching young lives throughout their careers
  • Influencing one policy-maker can benefit thousands of children.

Perhaps, most importantly, we never stop learning. And raising the funds to realise our plans is a continuing challenge

Debbie Lye is the International Inspiration Programme Director, Director of International Development, UK Sport and Chair of the UN International Working Group on Sport for Development and Peace.


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Debbie Lye


Wednesday, July 25, 2012 - 08:00