Inspired by the Winter Olympics, Kitcamp’s ‘Active Schools’ Toolkit #iamplayingwintersports brings the world of winter sports to your school.
The Winter Olympics are officially in full flow in Beijing. Much as we long for spring here in the UK, we are still in the grip of winter! But snow and the Winter Olympics introduce new concepts and play opportunities to children. Snow is exciting but it changes the way we live. Recently, a Ukrainian friend spoke of long harsh winters; her photos show families of snowmen, layers of thermal clothing, communal mulled wine and frozen landscapes. This snow-filled life is a stark contrast to my life in England and outside the experience of many children.
Eyes on the world
The Winter Olympics open young children’s eyes to countries, climates, people and communities. Seeing the novel and different brings understanding as well as reflection on our own circumstances. The Games is a launchpad to understanding more about the world; explore the host city, look at its culture, language, foods and terrain. Find out about wildlife through the Olympic mascots Soohorang, a white snow tiger, and Bandabi, an Asiatic black bear. Discover daredevil winter sports and translate them into new physical activities, which require balance, speed, strength and poise. Within moments children will start acting out moves and role play sportspeople they see around them.
More than just sport
Indeed, the 2018 Olympics hit the headlines for reasons other than sport. The PyeongChang Games was seen as an opportunity to encourage cooperation and contact with North Korea. Significantly, ten North Korean athletes competed in PyeongChang and North and South Korea fielded a joint women’s ice hockey team. The two countries marched under one flag, the Unification Flag, providing the potential for a time of peace and harmony through sport.
The Olympic Values
There is the wonderful story of the Jamaican bobsleigh team at the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games. As athletes from the tropics competing in a cold-weather sport they were the underdogs. They lacked experience and equipment but they had spirit! Other countries helped out with coaching and lent spare sleighs, a show of camaraderie and true sportsmanship.
Likewise, the unforgettable everyday hero Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards who ski-jumped his way into the crowd’s hearts in Calgary. Having failed to meet the standard as a downhill skier, Edwards became the best, and only, ski-jumper in the UK. Despite coming last by a long margin, his enthusiasm, positivity and resilience shone through, declaring that competing in the Olympics was always enough for him.
Sidestepping the obstacles
Equally, stories of individual athletes are inspiring. Aanchal Thakur, a young Indian woman won the country’s first ever international ski medal. Her bronze in the slalom was the result of a long struggle training with limited facilities in a country where winter sports receive no funding and little recognition. Her inspirational achievement has been recognised by India’s Prime Minister as a source of national pride.
Closer to home, Millie Knight, the World Champion alpine skier from Kent, inspired with her bravery. Despite being virtually blind, she competed for the ParaOlympic GB Team in downhill slalom events, travelling at speeds of over 70mph. Her ski guide communicates with her via Bluetooth microphone and earpiece; an ultimate example of teamwork and trust, as seen on Ski Sunday.
Bringing winter sports home
Use these Winter Olympics to inspire children to be active, physical and creative in new ways. Witness the teamwork of world-class athletes who demonstrate the Olympic values of friendship, excellence and respect, and enjoy exploring the world, celebrating determination, courage and equality. Let’s hope the magic of the Games is felt long after Winter, in playgrounds and schools and far and wide.
Feeling inspired to bring winter sports into your school using Kitcamp, sign up for our #iamplayingwintersports premium toolkit.
Read about the educational impact of the Olympic Values and the Olympic movement’s promotion of Sport.
Follow all the coverage on the BBC.