Being an Ambassador involves many different experiences. Going to see the new James Bond film was exhilarating, but even better was meeting members of the Swedish Paralympic team from London 2012 last Friday night. I’ve written in this space before about the spirit of the Paralympics, but to meet the individuals who embody it was truly memorable. It’s important that we build on the success of the Olympics and Paralympics.
The Government’s legacy programme is built around four key pillars:
- A sporting legacy – harnessing the inspiration of the Games to boost community sport whilst also improving elite structures;
- A social legacy – supporting community action projects and encouraging more people to volunteer after the Games;
- An economic legacy – using the Games to create jobs, win new contracts, boost tourism and support the UK’s business interests around the world;
- and An East London legacy – focusing on the long term regeneration of the host boroughs surrounding the Olympic Park. 75% of the Games budget has gone to local development.
- To that we can add a green legacy; an ecological transformation of East London – vast areas of polluted wasteland transformed into the biggest new urban park built for more than a century.
There’s also a particular Paralympic legacy:
- This includes improvements to the transport system to help people with disabilities travel more freely, and more opportunities for disabled people to play sport
- We’re spending more money on elite Paralympic sport than ever before. Nearly £50m in the run-up to the Games. These elite athletes will provide inspiration for others to get involved in sport regardless of their disability and help persuade those who run sport to give disability sport a greater priority
- We’re also spending on grassroots sports. Sport England is investing £8m this year to help get disabled people into sport, through disability bodies like British Blind Sport and Cerebral Palsy Sport. As part of the School Games, children at participating schools (13,000, half of the country) will learn about and play Paralympic sport.
We also have our International Inspiration programme. Launched in 2007, it has now reached more than 12 million people in 20 countries around the world, using sport to make a difference to communities. A number of projects are focused on reaching out to disabled children, displaced children and children living in institutions. We hope people around the world will benefit from London 2012.