School children in Nottingham take part in the Brazilian-themed activities
The event was a two-day celebration of the schools’ partnerships with schools in Brazil, first created three years ago through International Inspiration and now cemented thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm of local partners, staff and above all, the students.
As Young Leaders showed primary school children how to play instruments like the drums and tambourines, as well as new ones like the caixa, the samba beat was almost loud enough to burst my ear drums – if not the actual drums.
In another hall, rainbows of umbrellas danced around like giant synchronised butterflies; while in another, children squared up to one another against the backdrop of Brazilian beats in a capoeira lesson.
In showing how their leadership skills translated into Brazilian-themed fun, these Young Leaders enabled the primary school children to try new things, and by doing so, understand that people from other places are really just like them.
And for the Young Leaders – some of whom fundraised to arrange independent visits to their partner school in Brazil – the experience has been so much more.
As 17-year-old Alex explained, ‘It’s opened up a world of opportunities. It makes you realise what you have. It changes how you treat teachers and other people in general, you learn not to judge people so much, and to give them a chance’.
Grant, another Young Leader, told me how International Inspiration has changed his school: ‘I think bullying has dropped, as people [who‘ve been involved in sports leadership through International Inspiration] are wanting to do well and want to achieve, so they have to work hard and communicate’.
Brimming with pride
Throughout the day it was evident that the Young Leaders are the ones in the driving seat of the International Inspiration activities in their schools and communities. I watched on as Young Leaders, brimming with confidence, pride, and Brazilian spirit, taught younger children Brazilian sports, dances such as frevo and capoeira, and even how to make black bean stew.
Even maths became a fun game where children didn’t even notice they were learning, as the ‘Mathletes’ used creative ideas to inspire and engage children.
Helen Tindle, a teacher at Joseph Whitaker School, said: ‘Young Leaders are leading the futsal sessions and we now have a futsal festival every year. It’s given the students confidence, as well as allowing us to add extra depth to the curriculum’.
Talking about the impact of International Inspiration, Paul Buck, former Head Teacher at Portland School, said: ‘I think the programme has a genuine focus on the things that appeal to young people such as sport and opportunities to lead, but it’s done in such a way that it’s opened their minds to other cultures and broken down stereotypes.
‘It opened students up to a big world, and they found it was a welcoming world’.
International Inspiration recently achieved its goal of reaching 12 million children worldwide. In achieving the milestone a year earlier than planned, the programme is bringing to life the promise made by the London 2012 bid team to reach young people all around the world and connect them to the power of the Games.