Bringing the Paralympics and Olympics to the Classroom and Inspiring the Next Generation



The Olympic Federation of Ireland launched the new ‘Dare to Believe’ campaign that will include some well known Paralympians.

‘Dare to Believe’, a school activation programme championed and supported by the Athletes’ Commission. Olympism, Paralympism and the benefits of sport will be promoted in schools nationwide by some of Ireland’s best known and most accomplished athletes in a fun and interactive manner. The initial pilot phase is targeting the fifth and sixth class students in primary schools.

 Launching the programme were Irish Lightweight Women’s World Boxing Champion Kellie Harrington, Irish Olympic Rower Claire Lambe and Paralympic Swimmer Nicole Turner, all of whom will be part of the programme.

The aim of the programme is to promote the wider values of sport to children – teachers and students will receive resource packs with a range of activities and information based on five rings – Olympism and Paralympism, Healthy Mind and Body, Joy of Effort and Courage, and Respect, Responsibility and Equality. The final ring is titled ‘Striving for Excellence’ and involves a high-performance athlete or Olympian/Paralympian telling the class about their journey in sport.

 The dual purpose of the programme is to help athletes to develop their presentation skills and profiles, while providing a small additional revenue stream. For the Olympic Federation of Ireland and Paralympics Ireland, it is it is important to have a meaningful impact on children, and how sport can benefit them across a variety of realms. It is intended that Dare to Believe will be developed further in the coming years helping to bring the many values of sport and Olympism and Paralympism to the classrooms, as well as to help athletes with their own story telling.

 Dare to Believe was developed by 2008 Olympian Roisin McGettigan, who competed in the steeplechase:

“When I came home from the Olympic Games, I was asked to speak at my local schools. I had all of these hard-earned lessons, international experiences and passion for my sport that I was bursting to share with the next generation, but I soon realised that presenting my story effectively was something I needed to prepare for. I felt that if I had a template to work with and guidance on how to tell my story, it would have been a better experience for me, but more importantly a better experience for the children to whom I was speaking. It got me thinking about what could be done. I’m delighted that the Olympic Federation of Ireland, the Athletes’ Commission and the International Olympic Committee have backed this programme. Dare to Believe is an engaging programme that will make a difference in the classrooms and strengthen relationships with Olympians.”

Kellie Harrington is one of the Dare to Believe ambassadors who will be visiting schoolchildren:

“I am delighted to be an ambassador of this brilliant and refreshing programme. As a teenager I started boxing to make a lifestyle change, and at that time, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become a world champion and be competing in the highest level competitions. I want to be able to pass on all the skills I have learnt from sport and try to leave a positive impact on children and teenagers that will make them want to go on and achieve great things in life. Sport has given me great discipline and focus in all aspects of my life, I am looking forward to sharing this with the next generation.” 

The Dare to Believe Olympic Schools Programme aims to inspire and increase youth participation in sports by maximizing our Olympic and Paralympic athletes’ roles as ambassadors through inspirational workshops in schools around Ireland. We are facilitating Ireland’s top ambassador athletes across a variety of sports and preparing them to go into schools with the aim of inspiring the kids by telling their stories of dedication, resilience, determination etc. In addition, we have created an interactive curriculum for teachers based on Olympic and Paralympic values to increase the impact of our ambassadors’ visits and foster the OFI’s relationship with schools in Ireland. Visit www.daretobelieve.ie for further information on how to get involved.

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