Irish Olympians Daring to Believe with Schools

The Olympic Federation of Ireland has launched Dare to Believe, a new school activation programme championed and supported by the Athletes’ Commission.

Olympism, Paralympism and the benefits of sport will be promoted in schools nationwide by some of Ireland’s best known and most accomplished athletes in a fun and interactive manner. The initial pilot phase is targeting fifth and sixth class students in primary schools and will include an initial thirteen athletes taking part in schools from Cork to Donegal.

The aim of the programme is to promote the wider values of sport to children – teachers and students will receive resource packs with a range of activities and information based on five rings – Olympism and Paralympism, Healthy Mind and Body, Joy of Effort and Courage, and Respect, Responsibility and Equality. The final ring is titled ‘Striving for Excellence’ and involves a high-performance athlete or Olympian/Paralympian telling the class about their journey in sport.

The programme came to life after the experience of Olympian Rosie McGettigan who came home from Beijing in 2008 and went to speak to her hometown school in Wicklow but felt afterwards that she could have done it so much better.

Down the years of living between Ireland and the US, she kept coming back to that regret and wondering how a resource could be created for future generations to do it better.

After teaming up with fellow sports scholar at Rhode Island University Roisin Jones, they created Dare to Believe and brought it to the Olympic Federation of Ireland who then secured IOC Funding to bring it to life in schools.

The dual purpose of the programme is to help athletes to develop their presentation skills and profiles while providing a small additional revenue stream. For the Olympic Federation of Ireland, it is it is important to have a meaningful impact on children, and how sport can benefit them across a variety of realms.

It is intended that Dare to Believe will be developed further in the coming years helping to bring the many values of sport and Olympism to the classrooms, as well as to help athletes with their own storytelling.

“I’m delighted that the Olympic Federation of Ireland, the Athletes’ Commission and the International Olympic Committee have backed this programme,” said McGettigan at yesterday’s launch.

“Dare to Believe is an engaging programme that will make a difference in the classrooms and strengthen relationships with Olympians.”

“I am delighted to be an ambassador of this brilliant and refreshing programme,” added Kellie Harrington who was there alongside fellow participants Claire Lambe and Nicole McCarthy.

“As a teenager, I started boxing to make a lifestyle change, and at that time, never in my wildest dreams did I think I would become a world champion and be competing in the highest level competitions.”

“I want to be able to pass on all the skills I have learnt from sport and try to leave a positive impact on children and teenagers that will make them want to go on and achieve great things in life. Sport has given me great discipline and focus in all aspects of my life, I am looking forward to sharing this with the next generation.”

“As we grow as an organisation, reaching out nationally to children is vitally important,” said Olympic Federation of Ireland CEO Peter Sherrard.

“Dare to Believe is the perfect platform to us to achieve this. Through our fantastic athlete ambassadors, we can help teachers, and really connect with school children by developing their skills across a wide range of areas at a crucial stage in their development.”

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