Chilean Olympians inspire youth

4 | 12 | 2018

Vulnerable children across Chile are living better lives thanks to the WOA Service to Society Grant-funded Olympics for Youth scheme, which has seen two inspiring Chilean Olympians use their experience and platform to motivate the next generation of athletes.

Sebastian Keitel OLY (Athletics, Atlanta 1996) and his associate Daniela Caram set out with the goal of using sport as a tool to ensure that vulnerable children in Santiago were kept off the streets, offering them a safe space where they would be encouraged to dream big and lead a life true to the Olympic values of friendship, respect and pride.   

Now, Keitel – alongside fellow Olympian Maria Fernanda Valdes (Weightlifting, London 2012, Rio 2016) - are welcoming 15 children every week from across Chile – participating in a range of sports, confidence building activities and team-bonding initiatives.

“Olympians have a responsibility to give back to their communities and be role models for the next generation of athletes,” said Sebastian Keitel OLY.

“The grant WOA provided has enabled us to reach our goal – our project is benefitting not only local children but young people across our entire country. Everything we have achieved, all the dreams we have helped make possible, fills us with pride as we watch the children grow and develop through sport.”

By sharing their experiences as Olympians, both Keitel and Valdes are inspiring the children to dream bigger. In doing so, the children are diverted away from a violent or criminal life on the streets, and instead towards a life of Olympism, sport and activity, learning to work together and forging friendships through sport.

WOA President, Joël Bouzou OLY, added:

“I am inspired by Sebastian and Maria and I’m so proud to see them using their platform as Olympians to help children across Chile. This is a great example of exactly why the WOA Service to Society Grants are so important. The funding is helping to enact real and meaningful change for people around the world.”

Service to Society

The Service to Society Grant programme was first launched by WOA in 2016 to help fund Olympian-led, sustainable community projects that align with the promotion of the Olympic values. Six recipients were awarded grants in the second round of funding earlier this year: Palau, Japan, Moldova, Cape Verde, Chile and the United States of America.

Every year National Olympians Associations are invited to apply for funding for projects, initiatives and activities that enhance the role of Olympians in society and support them in their life transition.