St Columb’s College pupils inspired by London 2012 Olympic/Paralympic champions

PUPILS at St Columb’s College 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 Columb’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.

Gavin Doherty was one of those St Columb’s College pupils and, after meeting Stott and Jones in the flesh, he is now bursting with ideas for their plan to host their very own sports day.

“At the Get Set workshop we were looking to get experience and be inspired by the Olympics for something we could do in our community,” the 17-year-old said.

“We are looking to do a bit of a sports day for local junior school pupils so they can stay fit and active and maybe try something new.

“The activities we did at the workshop were all about team bonding and we learned how to work as a team and it allowed us to depend on each other.

“It is such a big project that we are doing so the biggest thing we took away from the project was being organised so we don’t have any problems.”

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 Columb’s College 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.