London Olympics say they'll help 12 million kids

Jul 26 2011 - 5:33pm

LONDON -- Far from London, the 2012 Olympics are helping to transform and save lives.

From Bangladesh to Zambia, London's international legacy program has invested $62 million in 17 countries and hit its target a year early to involve 12 million children and young people in sports globally.

Noor, an 18-year-old woman from Bangladesh, is one of them, receiving lessons to become a swimming teacher in a country where four children on average die every hour from drowning.

Brought to London to be part of celebrations to mark a year until the Olympics, Noor, whose full name was not given, recounted how her training has already saved at least one life.

"A girl about 5 years old was drowning, and her parents took her out of the water and tried to save her in a traditional way by putting some ashes in her mouth," Noor said through a translator. "I gave it five minutes and said if nothing happens I will do it my way. I took her and tried to implement some of the (resuscitation) techniques I had learnt from the program, pushing the chest, and after some time she began to breathe."

As a result of her training, Noor feels more empowered in her tiny village of Makura in Rangpur.

"My father is a rickshaw puller and the only earning member of my family," she said, while overlooking London's 80,000-seat Olympic Stadium. "Through this I tried to prove that a girl can also be an active member of her family. These activities help me develop my leadership.

"This helps me to speak up for other girls in my village, to make sure their voices are heard."

London's Olympic team has already raised another $10 million from the public and private sector to invest in another three countries before the Olympics start next July.

"This shows we can take the world's greatest sporting event and use it for the benefit of other countries other than ourselves," Britain's Olympics Minister Hugh Robertson said. "This direct intervention through sport is saving people's lives."

The program, called International Inspiration, will continue in some of the 20 countries for two years after the Olympics, with organizers expecting the 2016 Rio Games team to adopt a similar project.


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