Best Practice

Service to Society: Estonian Olympians launch nationwide get active schools programme

21 | 8 | 2017

The Estonian Olympians Association has successfully launched its WOA Service to Society Grant award project, by holding School Olympics across the country, with children taking part in sport alongside some of the nation’s top Olympians.

The School Olympics project has seen 30 Estonian Olympians visit children around the country, helping to inspire the next generation of national athletes and offering them the opportunity to try new activities.

Among the Olympians taking part were two-time fencing World Champion Nikolai Novosjolov and Jaan Talts, a weightlifter who won Olympic gold at Munich 1972 and silver at Mexico 1968.

To date, 14 School Olympics have been held around Estonia, taking place almost twice weekly since the first event was staged in Hiiumaa on 2nd May. The events are held within the town, with children from all local schools invited to attend. The final event of 2017 is due to take place on 8 September in the Eastern region of Tartumaa.

The aim of the School Olympics Service to Society project is to establish regular Olympic education weeks and sports festivals around Estonia. Through them, the Estonian Olympians Association and the Estonian Olympic Academy hope to provide both inspiration and training to children throughout the country, as well as support to the nation’s teachers eager to introduce active lifestyles to their pupils. An information pack promoting the Olympic values of friendship and inclusivity was circulated to all schools, and will become an optional element of the school curriculum nationwide.

Juri Tamm of the Estonian Olympians Association, said:

“This project has been incredible, not only for the children of our country but for our national athletes. As Olympians, they are driven to share the ideals of Olympism and to help the next generation of athletes achieve their goals.

“The School Olympics are giving children the opportunity to learn and grow. Sport and physical activity teaches children how to live safe and healthy lives, how to respect others, how to become leaders in their communities and how to be a good winner who carries themselves like a champion.

“We want to ensure that children in our country are staying active, and learning how to compete in a fair and friendly way, and this initiative gives them that opportunity. It is thanks to the WOA and the Service to Society Grant that we are able to run these schemes and spread the ideals of Olympism throughout the children of Estonia.”

At one of the most recent events, held in the Eastern Estonian town of Kohtla Jarve, more than 200 children came together to sample and compete in a host of Olympic sports with former rower Tatjana Jaanson, who shared her knowledge of coaching two-time Olympic silver medal winning double skulls team Tonu Endrekson and Juri Jaanson.

Nikolai Novosjolov, a four-time Olympian and two-time fencing World Champion, added:

“It was great to be involved in this scheme, which is helping to bring both sport and Olympism to the children of Estonia.

“As an Olympian, I have always felt a duty to use my position to give something back and the WOA are helping me and other Olympians like me do this. Through the Service to Society Grant we are able to share our experiences with more and more people, and give back what we have learnt as Olympians.”

The Service to Society Grants, first launched by WOA in 2016, span 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

Image credit: Kohtla-Järve Slaavi Põhikool