Former Olympic triple jumper, Jonathan Edwards and 2008 Beijing Paralympic Bronze medallist, Stef Reid, made their way to London today, along with the Olympic Torch, to open the Young Ambassador Conference at Twickenham Stadium.
Over hundred 14-19 year olds from across the country attended the event after being selected by their schools to become Young Ambassadors, tasked with using London 2012 to inspire other young people in their schools and communities.
The day was led by a team of Olympic and Paralympic Athlete mentors, including Paralympian middle distance runner, Tim Prendergast, former Olympic swimmer, Adam Whitehead and Paralympic Silver medallist, Clare Strange, as well as a number of experienced Young Ambassadors. The mentors shared their own experiences of what it's like to be part of an Olympic and Paralympic Games and encouraged the Ambassadors to think about how they can make London 2012 relevant to their own communities. A number of experienced Ambassadors also discussed their important role and the ways in which they have made an impact in their schools and communities over the last 12 months.
The group of young stars have been acknowledged for the prestigious roles by their schools, having shown exceptional commitment and ability as young leaders or volunteers, to become Young Ambassadors, an initiative presented by adidas and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust. Central to their mission will be spreading the Olympic and Paralympic values of respect, friendship, personal excellence, courage, determination, inspiration and equality and showing how people can adopt them into their lives.
The aim of the conference series is to inspire and motivate the Young Ambassadors through London 2012 and the Olympic and Paralympic values, so that they can then go back to their schools and inspire and motivate other young people.
With a bronze medal under her belt and training well underway for next year's 2012 Games, Stef is no stranger to commitment, perseverance and team work. Stef opened the conference by sharing her experiences of what it takes to be an elite athlete and being involved in an Olympic Games, the importance of role models and the impact of inspiring others.
Stef said: "I'm privileged to be involved with the Young Ambassador programme. Competing at a Paralympic Games is the ultimate achievement and the best feeling to know you have trained hard, pushed yourself and your boundaries, and have come out fighting in winning form. It's an incredible experience and has definitely changed me as a person. I'm really looking forward to meeting the Young Ambassadors and hope that through hearing about my experiences they will come away energised and motivated to help get their friends participating in sport."
Alison Oliver, Director of Sport at the Youth Sport Trust, which is responsible for delivering the programme said: "Our Young Ambassadors programme demonstrates the influence that young people can have as role models with their peers and those younger than themselves. Since the initiative launched in 2006, thousands of young people have been recognised by their schools for their ability and exceptional commitment as young leaders or volunteers. With the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games drawing closer, these conferences play a crucial role in encouraging Young Ambassadors to harness their passion for sport and use their energy to make London 2012 relevant to other young people within their own schools and local communities."