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Promoting Olympism throughout the Israeli community by Hilla Davidov and Yarden Har Lev

The Israeli Olympic Committee has implemented an Olympic Values Education Program (OVEP) designed to introduce Olympic values and physical activity into a cultural and educational framework throughout the country. By teaching excellence, friendship and respect, Olympism serves as a philosophy of life making these basic values an integral part of all our activities.

The program was developed based on a theoretical notion that sees top athletes as role models who influence teenagers and adults alike. Since top athletes can greatly affect teenagers as well as adults, they are able to teach us values and life skills, such as self-control, persistence, diligence, decision-making and more. The Olympic Movement possesses three core values that serve as guiding principles for top athletes as they strive to meet their objectives and become Olympic champions, and for teenagers in becoming champions in life!

In early January, the Israel Olympic Committee had officially launched the “Olympic Values Education Program” for 2016, placing it as part of the curriculum of 4000 pupils and 1000 students in 60 schools across Israel. Students from a wide range of populations are exposed to the program, including the Jewish and the Arab sectors, as well as orthodox education and special education – students with special needs. These schools’ curriculum will allow spreading the Olympism by assimilating Olympic values in Physical Education classes and other subjects. This project was created with the help of the Olympic Solidarity fund & in collaboration with the Ministry of Education.

The program includes 6 sessions throughout the year:

  1. The Olympic Games: from ancient Greece to modern history, symbols and slogans.
  2. Blue and white moments: Israeli winners of medals, prominent athletes and the Munich Massacre.
  3. The Olympic values and the Paralympic values.
  4. Healthy lifestyle – nutrition workshop.
  5. A visit in “The Olympic Experience” (an audiovisual tour at the Visitors’ Center of the Israel Olympic Committee) and a meeting with Israeli Olympic athletes.
  6. Top event – organizing the Olympic Day at school, as a part of the International Olympic day in June 2016.

In addition to school kids from the mentioned sectors, about 200 male and female competitive athletes in the ages of 12-18 joined this project, practicing different sports (Swimming, Judo, Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Table-Tennis, and Triathlon) with the potential to participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. What is common to all these athletes, except for being athletes, is that they live together at the Wingate Academy for Excellence in Sports, which was established at the Wingate institute in 1991 to allow young athletes with the skill and ability to realize their sportive potential to be under optimal workout conditions while maintaining their educational achievements level and enabling them to grow up properly.

The lives of the Wingate Academy for Excellence in Sports include about 5 hours of training, some during the early morning hours, before leaving for school, and some during the afternoon and evening hours. Since their schedule and activities are different from other students, the Olympic Values Education Program should be adjusted to their sportive lifestyle to achieve its goal. That way in fact, a special seminar day was thought of, in collaboration with the Israeli Olympic Committee, on the topic of Olympic values education headed by the slogan “to build a better world through sports”.

The seminar was held in the beginning of March at the Wingate Institute in Israel and included a series of interesting and fascinating lectures on Olympic topics that express the Olympism given by leading figures from different fields in the Israeli Sport. The fist lecturer was Mr. Gilad Lustig, CEO, Israeli Olympic Committee, who lectured on the Olympic Games that will take place this summer in Rio 2016, giving a small peak to the competition venue and introducing the Israeli delegation. In his lecture he described to the young athletes in the crowd who aspire to realize the Olympic dream the unique atmosphere in the Olympic village and its ethical importance, which is in suit with the Olympic idea: gathering all the athletes in an environment of friendship and comradeship and creating an “Olympic family” above the different cultures.

Later on, the athletes met the head of marketing, advertising, PR and spokesperson of the Israeli Olympic Committee, Mrs. Bruria Bigman, who exposed them to the functions of the media in sports from different angles based on her extensive experience as a media persona in the sports field for the past 40 years. Immediately following was the National Project Manager, Mrs. Hilla Davidov, who presented the main topic of the seminar – Olympism in an attractive way that captured the attention of the participants using selected clips showing the history of the Olympic Games and expressing the implementation of the Olympic idea. That way, the athletes received a real concept of the sports sphere of each of the Olympic values – excellence, friendship, and respect.

The exciting part of this day belongs to the personal story of Moran Samuel, a 33-year-old Paralympics athlete, who at 24 found herself paralyzed from the chest down. Since then, Moran is a wheelchair basketball player and Paralympics rower (2015 gold medalist of the world championship, 2014 silver medalist of the world championship and fifth place in the Paralympics games in London 2012), who will be representing Israel in the Paralympics games in Rio 2016. In a breathtaking lecture, she told about the rehabilitation, the transformation from a “regular” athlete to an athlete with a physical impairment, about values, overcoming, a positive and life in general. The main message of the lecture is that when in a process of rehabilitation, it is hard to pinpoint all the places where you feel small victories sum up to a big victory, yet you clearly understand that the road is more important than the end goal and that every obstacle can become a challenge.

A moment before the end, our young athletes were able to participate in an intimate panel with past Israeli Olympic Athletes in different sports (Judo, 470 Sailing and Artistic gymnastics) who arrived especially to share about the life after their sports career and how their development as athletes through their experiences in the field helped them reach jobs, such as medical doctors and CEO of companies , and key positions, such as Knesset member, they are in today.

In conclusion, there are many ways to spread the Olympism throughout the community. Whether through assimilating of the Olympic values in Physical Education classes in school, sports activities as part of the sports associations, through concentrated seminars or by celebrating the Olympic day – the idea behind this program is that its contents touch all the levels of our lives and therefore, by managing a creative approach we could adjust it to fit any group. Doing so, the result will be no other than exposing most of the younger generation to De Coubertin’s philosophy of life, which might strengthen the understanding on the contribution of sports to the development of man and society.

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