With the starting gun fired for 6 months to go, yesterday I was delighted to head to Salford to meet young people and athlete ambassadors involved in the latest Get Set project – Get Set’s Path to Paris – as we look forward to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Celebrating Get Set gives us a unique opportunity to look forward to the inspiration of the next Games, whilst also thinking back to one of the most enduring and successful legacies of the London 2012 Games.

Spirit and the British Olympic Foundation, who deliver Get Set on behalf of the British Olympic and Paralympic Associations, have been in partnership since Spirit was set up. Get Set was the official education programme of the London 2012 Games, and in the lead up to and during the London summer Games they worked with schoolchildren right across the UK to get them active and inspire them with the Olympic and Paralympic values. It was at the heart of the promise to Inspire a Generation.

As Spirit was being set up in 2013 to take the legacy from the 2012 Games forward the Big Lottery Fund (as was) and Spirit of 2012 founding Trustees jointly awarded funding to Get Set to Make a Change – enabling 14-19 year olds to become changemakers in their communities. The project culminated in 2015 with Legacy Leaders across the country celebrating the impact they had made in their communities with local starts from London 2012.

Since then Spirit has funded, most recently with Sport England, the Get Set programmes for most of the subsequent Summer and Winter Games encouraging young people and their families to get active and virtually travel to the next Games destination by logging activity and taking part in challenges. Road to Rio, Travel to Tokyo, Bound for Beijing and now Path to Paris have collectively seen more than 1 million young people get more active in fun and flexible ways in and out of school.

The programme has evolved over the time we have been supporting it, continuing to be rooted very much in schools, but the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games specifically sought to engage inactive families from lower socio-economic groups and encourage them to be more active together on a regular basis, partly because of the challenges of COVID-19.

To support families to stay active at home during lockdown, Travel to Tokyo created a Home Learning Pack filled with fun, quick and easy activities that encouraged young people to get active using simple household items as equipment. A series of home workouts and mini-challenges were presented by athlete ambassadors to keep families engaged.

Today myself and Kevin tried something new. We grabbed our bikes and went on a mini bike ride. For myself it has been a very long time riding a bike but I was reminded how free I feel. Kevin said he didn’t feel overly confident in going fast but he enjoyed going at a steady pace and staying on the cycle path. I think we will make this a regular activity.

– Parent

For Tokyo and Beijing, where Spirit funded activation in the other Home Nations, nearly 250,000 children took part from across Scotland, NI and Wales.

Evidence from the evaluation suggests the programme had some success in tackling key barriers to participation in physical activity within families, as well as building on the benefits of being active to help to develop and sustain healthy habits as a family.

Teachers also saw pupils being more active, especially outside of school, and some felt it increased uptake in after school clubs. Parents echoed this by saying the programme helped them to think about what activities they could add to their week.

The kids that were engaged with physical activity who maybe weren’t so active before, were making a choice to compete, they wanted to show me as much as anybody else how much they were doing.

– Teacher

One of the most enjoyable and impactful elements of the programme from the beginning has been the engagement of TeamGB athletes and use of the Olympic and Paralympic Values as a teaching aid. The young people loved connecting with their local heroes. Today in Salford they had the opportunity to see a demo and meet members of the TeamGB skateboarding team, have a Q&A with some of our TeamGB’s Olympians and Paralympians and have a go at activities, including boccia and skateboarding.

As well as raising the profile of Olympic sports Get Set has made a significant contribution to raising the profile of the Paralympic Games and Para-sport with children from both SEND and mainstream schools.

A lot of our children had not heard of the Paralympic Games, some did not even realise that people with disabilities could take part (please note I have P1’s).

– Teacher, Scotland

We have been hugely proud of our association with Get Set and 10 years of support for one of the key legacies of the London 2012 Games.

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