Creating an Olympic legacy

PUBLISHED: 12:36 20 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:00 20 February 2013

Playing Hockey in the Herts School Games

Playing Hockey in the Herts School Games

Damion Roberts continues our Olympics countdown with a look at how the county's young are getting involved

THE word legacy has often been found hand-in-hand with London 2012 as Olympic chiefs look to put in place a strategy which will have long-term benefits for communities up and down the country.

In Hertfordshire, one aspect of creating such a legacy has seen more than 1,000 youngsters try their hand at different sports in the Herts Youth Games while another has seen North Hertfordshire College lead the way in putting in place building blocks for young people to enter the security industry ahead of the 2012 games.

Hertfordshire Youth Games

Held this summer at the Hertfordshire Sports Village at the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, the Herts Youth Games was one of nine pilot events taking place across the country ahead of the launch of the national School Games competition in September, which will build up to a final in the Olympic Stadium in May 2012.

More than 1,000 children took part in the event, which was also attended by former Olympic medallists Darren Campbell and Mark Richardson as well as Watfords very own current Paralympian Helen Freeman.

Also in attendance was Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt who set out plans to drive changes in the provision of school sport for disabled children including increasing the number of sports available and providing sports for young, disabled athletes at next years School Games.

One of the events held at the Herts Youth Games was a flat water canoe sprint race at the Lee Valley White Water Centre which itself will be used as a venue for the full 2012 Olympics.

Speaking about that particular event, Derrick Ashley, chairman of the Herts is Ready for Winners, said: The canoe sprint event as part of the School Games was a great way of getting local kids involved and using the countys Olympic venue.

The School Games and the Lee Valley White Water Centre are very much focussed on Olympic legacy and this is a great example of what can be achieved.

East Herts were crowned overall winners of the 2011 Herts Youth Games while Hertsmere were the runners-up.

Bridging the Gap

Bridging the Gap, the further education element of which is being spearheaded by North Hertfordshire College, aims to provide 8,000 young people with the necessary qualifications to go into the security trade prior to, during and following the Olympic Games a project which has now been rolled out across the country.

Georgia Harris, 18, from Hitchin, is one student who has chosen the project, saying, Ive done my stewarding qualification and am now doing my door supervisors qualification.

Ive already got a job lined up for when I qualify, Im going to work at local clubs and events and also hopefully at the Olympics.

Students involved with the project are already proving the benefit of their training to the local community.

The colleges Bridging the Gap students recently volunteered at Stevenage Carnival day, undertaking a variety of roles including attending the car park, stewarding front and backstage, and walking with the carnival.

Carol Brassfield, from the carnivals organising committee, said: Stevenage Carnival Organisation partnered with NHC last November and were extremely pleased with all the support both in organising the return of the carnival and on the day, with the participation of the students who took responsibility for stewarding and security.

We had no official police presence at either the Parade or events in Fairlands Valley Park, relying instead on the students from the NHC stewarding and security course.

The opportunity to enhance students future employability was what most interested college principal Fintan Donohue when he was first approached with the idea of colleges providing training in the security skills required for 2012.

I had no idea how transformational it could be for FE students, Mr Donohue said. The Olympics contractor G4S is the second largest employer in the world and at that point we had no relationship with them. Now, some 8,000 college students will be employed by them.

But the real legacy story is that the initiative is connecting young people to part-time employment and training in tough economic times.

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