A new scheme encouraging children to walk, scoot or cycle to school as part of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games legacy was launched in Leeds today by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman. Children from two schools in Leeds, Adel Primary and St John the Baptist Primary, helped launch the initiative by taking part in walking races.
Mrs Spelman’s visit to Leeds follows the first Cabinet meeting of the year at the Olympic Park, reflecting the huge importance the Government places on making the most of the Games and its legacy for Britain.
‘Walk the History of the Games’ was launched today at Adel Primary School by Caroline Spelman and top GB race walker Tom Bosworth. Through this new initiative, the London 2012 Olympics is inspiring youngsters and their families to walk, scoot and cycle their way to school in Leeds. Local schools will compete to work up a mileage that will take them on a virtual journey from the Olympic Games in Athens in 1896 across the globe and through the history of the Olympics.
Pupils from Adel Primary School and Adel St John the Baptist Primary School competed in walking races in Adel this afternoon. Mrs Spelman and Tom Bosworth presented prizes to the winners before walking St John the Baptist Primary School pupils back to their school.
Speaking at the launch, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Caroline Spelman said:
“It’s been great to see that the London 2012 Games is inspiring so many young people in Leeds to get active on their way to school.
“As well as inspiring a sporting legacy, London 2012 has brought huge business benefits to the whole country. In Yorkshire and Humber alone, businesses in the region have won almost £75 million of contracts for construction.”
This morning, Caroline Spelman attended a Cabinet meeting on the Olympic Park in Stratford, East London, chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron. The meeting focused on how every part of the UK can take full advantage of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the unique chance that that the country has to sell itself to a massive international audience.
In the afternoon, Cabinet Ministers visited towns and cities across the United Kingdom to see for themselves how businesses, sports facilities, schools and organisations are benefiting from the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
With little over seven months before the opening ceremony, the construction phase is 95% complete and the project continues to be on time and on budget. Since work began on the East London site in 2008, £6.39 billion worth of contracts have been awarded to over 1,500 business in the UK, with £74,393,422 worth going to Yorkshire and Humberside.
Prime Minister David Cameron said:
“As we kick off 2012, the year of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Diamond Jubilee, this is the perfect time for the Cabinet to come together and ensure we are doing absolutely everything we can to make the most of this unique opportunity to showcase all the great things the UK has to offer to the rest of the world.
“As Ministers visit Olympic venues, businesses, schools and organisations associated with 2012 right across the UK, I want the message to go out loud and clear, from tourism to business, sport to investment, we are determined to maximise the benefits of 2012 for the whole country.
“Today, as we mark 200 days to go, and 6 out of the 8 Olympic venues having already secured their future, we are well on track to delivering a lasting legacy for the whole of Britain.”
Hosting the Games this summer will put the United Kingdom in the international spotlight and the Government is committed to ensuring that the tourism sector maximises the benefits, boosting investment, jobs and growth. Domestic tourism will benefit from a 20.12 per cent discount initiative recently announced by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt, and during a trip to New York last September the Prime Minister launched the GREAT campaign which will focus on promoting globally everything the UK has to offer. The campaign will showcase the opportunities to invest in the UK and help to attract millions of extra visitors.
Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport Jeremy Hunt said:
“London 2012 gives us an opportunity to showcase the best of Britain to the world and what this country has to offer. From our beautiful countryside to historic sites, sporting venues to our amazing cultural offer Britain really does have something for everyone. I am confident that we will put on a sporting spectacular this summer with some magical, medal moments that we will never forget and that will inspire many young people to get involved in sport.”
Sports in the UK will also receive a boost as part of the Olympic legacy with many of the world-class venues being opened up to local communities and initiatives to support sport in schools, communities and elite athletes continuing after the Games.
20.12 per cent discount - Accommodation providers who sign up to the VisitEngland-led campaign, will offer people the discount providing they book before the end of the Paralympics. The initiative will be fully-launched later this year.
Funding for elite athletes - Funding for our elite athletes will remain at the same level in the run-up to the 2016 Rio Games
Community sport - Sport England’s £135 million PlacesPeoplePlay programme is already boosting community sport up and down the country - upgrading facilities, protecting playing fields and providing more opportunities for people to play sport.
School Games - The School Games is revitalising competitive sport in schools. 11,000 schools have signed up to date which will see inter-school and school versus school sports competition happen across the country. The first national final will take place at the Olympic Park in May with young athletes competing in many of the Games venues before the world’s best go for gold at London 2012.
Tom Bosworth, 21, is a British race walker who hopes to make the Olympic team his year. He is currently ranked top in the UK for 20 kms in the under-23 age group. He competed for England in the 20 km race walk in the Commonwealth Games in Delhi in 2010 and set a UK 5000m race walk record this year. Tom currently trains full-time at the UK race walking centre at Leeds Metropolitan University.
“Walk the History of the Games” was developed by Leeds City Council transport policy section, and is being delivered throughout West Yorkshire by the five district councils in partnership with the WYPTE (Metro). There is still time for your school to take part. Leeds schools should email firstname.lastname@example.org to register their interest.