Best Practice

Service to Society: Australian Olympians inspire high school students

15 | 6 | 2017

The Australian Olympians Association successfully launched its WOA Service to Society Grant award scheme by going to Queensland high schools to help inspire the next generation of national athletes.

The Meet with a Champ initiative that was awarded the grant sees Australian Olympians spend time with school children to share their experiences as athletes and to inspire them to get active and try new sports.

Students at Bracken Ridge State High School and St John Fisher College in Queensland were both treated to visits from Olympic swimmers Susie O’Neill and Emily Seebohm, as well as racewalker Dane Bird-Smith, who between them hold a combined 14 Olympic medals.

For Dane Bird-Smith, the experience was one he wished he’d had when he was young.

“I never got the opportunity to hear from an Olympian. We all had really similar things to say about our sporting careers and the difficulties we’ve had to overcome.

“I was alongside Emily Seebohm and Susie O’Neill, so was in pretty good company and I, like the students, was really interested to hear what they had to say as well.”

24 year-old Seebohm, who won gold at both Beijing 2008 and London 2012, echoed Bird-Smith sentiments.

“It was really good to see students from the High School I went to. They were really interested in stories they could apply to their schooling and fitting in extra activities like training and sport.”

Following the visit, 23-year old Olympic sailor Ashley Stoddart travelled to Alexandra Hills State High School in south east Brisbane to watch the Metropolitan East School Sport Cross Country, again sharing her experience as an Olympian with all in attendance.

The Australian Olympians Association will continue to visit schools within the Queensland area in the hope of boosting participation among children.

WOA executive committee member and Australian Olympian, Natalie Cook, added:

“It is great to see Australian Olympians engaging with the next generation of athletes in this country, and it will special to see how this Service to Society grant will help to inspire children in Australia over the coming years.

“At WOA we want to use our status as Olympians to drive real change, and personally it is amazing to see this happening in my own country.”

Queensland Olympic Council Secretary General, Trevor Beckingham, added:

Meet with a Champ is a live audience discussion, featuring outstanding Australian Olympians sharing experiences about the positive impact sport has had on their lives.

“We hope that this initiative will inspire future Australian Olympians, and will help young people to feel good about themselves and stay active. We hope to continue visiting Year 9 and 10s around Queensland and spreading the message of Olympism.”

The Service to Society Grants, first launched by WOA in 2016, span all five continents, and will see Olympians across the world work to better society through sport. The full list of inaugural awards is as follows:

  • Australian Olympians Association
  • Colombia Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission and Colombian Olympians Association
  • Estonian Olympians Association
  • Olympians Association of India
  • Malaysian Olympians Association
  • Zimbabwe Olympians Association