Buenos Aires 2018
One of 80+ Young Change-Makers (YCMs) who will be on duty at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG) Buenos Aires 2018, American snowboarder Ty Walker was in Japan in August as part of the YCM+ programme, which empowers young people to use sport to make a difference in their communities.
Ty Walker was only 16 years old and still in full-time education when she represented America in the inaugural women’s freestyle event at the Olympic Winter Games Sochi 2014. She returned to school this year, however, as part of her role as a Young Change Maker+.
Over 40 YCMs successfully applied for funding to start their own community projects this year and, as part of the YCM+ programme, Ty was invited by Partner Panasonic to share her Olympic journey with some young school children. Ty’s YCM+ project aims to introduce free gym training for university students to help combat injury and increase female participation.
The pupils Ty visited are all part of ‘Sharing The Dream 2020’, an offshoot of the Kid Witness News programme, a global hands-on video educational programme for students, which has been running since 1989 and aims to stimulate children’s creativity, build communication skills and encourage teamwork.
“Sharing The Dream 2020” is a workshop project in which students in Japan are visited by a YCM and produce video content with the concept of “one school cheering for one nation”. The country that is celebrated is determined by the visiting YCM’s home nation.
As part of the programme, Walker headed to Ryogoku High School in Tokyo in August to meet the pupils and help make a video ahead of Team USA’s trip to Japan in less than two years’ time.
“I had an amazing time in Japan and got to see a lot in the time I was there,” Walker said. “It was great to travel to Tokyo and deliver a presentation and community project with the support of Panasonic. To be able to be part of Kid Witness News and help create media content was fantastic, and the children at Ryogoku High School were brilliant.
I’d been dreaming about competing in the Olympics since I was eight years old, so to finally reach a goal that I’d been working towards for so long was really surreal. I cannot wait to be part of the Olympic family again
“They had definitely been working on their skills. In the video we made, the students taught me how to write their school’s motto in Japanese calligraphy, which translates as “Don’t give up, even in snowstorms”. Being a snowboarder, I loved this message and was really excited to learn how to write it. I could definitely still use more practice, though.
“I also taught the girls how to write one of my favourite phrases – “Do what you love, love what you do” – in English. I wanted to encourage them to pursue their passions, regardless of whether it’s in sports, music, technology or something else. Even though the event wasn’t sport-themed, I still think the workshop promoted the Olympic vision of learning about different cultures and interacting with people from around the world. It was a trip I will never forget.”
Walker’s Japanese visit also saw her meet fellow YCM and “Sharing The Dream 2020” participant Maria Andrade, who represented Cape Verde in taekwondo at the Olympic Games Rio 2016.
“It was great to have the opportunity to get to know Maria briefly,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to seeing her again in Buenos Aires and I’m so excited to be going to the YOG in Argentina.
“Being a part of Team USA in 2014 was incredible. I’d been dreaming about competing in the Olympics since I was eight years old, so to finally reach a goal that I’d been working towards for so long was really surreal. I cannot wait to be part of the Olympic family again.”
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