Pippins is one of thousands of schools who are signed up to London 2012's Get Set programme. I was there to talk to the children, all aged between 5 and 11 years old, about London 2012 and our London 2012 mascots - and invite them to enter our ‘Get Set to make your mascot’ competition.
After the Deputy Head introduced me, I suddenly realised 200 little faces in chorus saying ‘Good afternoon, Heather’ was extremely scary compared to my usual Marketing day job! However, after saying I was there to speak about the Games and the mascots, the gasps and excited chatter reassured me this was the best audience I could have wished for.
Having been brought up alongside sport – playing it, watching it, living it, breathing it, at home and in school – I was thrilled to see all their hands go up in response to my question of 'who here likes sport?' The teachers, led by their PE teacher Chris, have done lots with the children to teach them about sport, the history of the Games and what is to come as part of London 2012.
In response to my every question – How often do the Games happen? What sports do athletes compete in? Where will they be held in the year 2012? What colour medals do the 1st place athletes receive? – their knowledge of the Games and enthusiasm for understanding and learning more was contagious. This is the type of excitement which we want to inspire in kids up and down the country – and we're still 2 years away!
There were further gasps and excited chatter when cuddly Wenlock (London 2012 Olympic mascot) and Mandeville (London 2012 Paralympic mascot) appeared from behind the table. I showed the mascots' film, which was met with laughs out loud as the characters played and tried sports.
We went through the Olympic Values of respect, friendship and excellence and the Paralympic Values of determination, inspiration, courage and endeavour.
Once they had all politely filed out of assembly and were heading home, I felt a buzz inside me, I think it was because their excitement actually felt tangible. To top this off, one of the pupils in Year 6 told me: 'wait there, I've got something to show you'... He came back with a wooden version of a mascot he had made at home. Complete with one eye like Wenlock, a cheeky smile, Olympic rings on his chest and Olympic Torch in his hand. I couldn't believe in his own spare time, he had made a choice to make this – fantastic!
For homework, the kids have colouring sheets to design their own versions of Wenlock and Mandeville and show the world what is unique about their school Pippins, and where they live in and around Colnbrook; I can't wait to see their ideas and designs.
It's amazing to see how teachers out there, as part of Get Set, are educating these young minds and doing such a fantastic job. We won the bid to host the Games on the promise to inspire a new generation of children to choose sport and in the build up to 2012, it's an incredible feeling to know there are people out there – one big team, a community across the UK – who are helping us to engage with children and build up to what will be the greatest show on Earth in 2012.