Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Wales Young Ambassador Conference 2011

Friday 4 November 2011 marked the date of Wales’ second annual Young Ambassador Conference. Held at the Swalec Stadium in Cardiff, the purpose of the event was to induct Wales’ new Gold Young Ambassadors and provide them with the necessary training needed to empower them to be effective in their new roles, both in their schools and local communities.
5x60 officers, teachers and Local Authority representatives also attended the event to support their Young Ambassadors, whilst special guests included Chair of the Youth Sport Trust Baroness Sue Campbell MBE and athletes Geraint Thomas MBE, Michaela Breeze MBE, Alex Danson and Clare Strange. (Watch the video)
Steve Thomas, Chair of the all-Wales Young Ambassadors Steering Group, talks us through it:

Personally, the day started particularly early! Picked up at 7:20am from outside the Sport Wales National Centre, I was whisked off to the BBC Wales studios, with Michaela Breeze, to conduct a radio interview on the ‘Good Morning Wales’ breakfast show.

With the discussion topics being Young Ambassadors and London 2012, it was the ideal opportunity to raise the profile of the YA programme and to promote all of the good work that has been going on in Wales. Later on in the day, other steering group members did likewise by conducting TV interviews with S4C, BBC and ITV Wales.
After a quick breakfast, it was off to registration at the SWALEC Stadium. After a brief ‘meet and greet’ with YST and Sport Wales staff, and a check of the itinerary for the day, each YA got their hands on the new Adidas gold YA kit, something that everyone seemed particularly pleased with! Once everyone had arrived, and was kitted out, everyone gathered in the conference room ready for the opening ceremony.

The opening ceremony set the tone for what was a fantastic day. Opening the conference was steering group member, Ainsley Richards, who inspired everyone with her uplifting and enthusiastic speech and shouts of ‘OGI OGI OGI’, which everyone responded to!

Then it was left to Sue Campbell, who conducted an excellent and insightful interview with Olympic Gold medallist Geraint Thomas, questioning him on his career highlights and aspirations for London 2012. Upon completion of the opening ceremony, the Gold Ambassadors were put into groups and sent off to their respective workshops, with the adults remaining seated in the conference room for their workshops.
The Gold YA workshops were delivered by the YST athlete mentors, who took great care in ensuring that each Gold YA knew their role and responsibilities in order for them to make a positive impact as a YA in their schools and local communities. The adult workshops consisted of sharing good practice, raising awareness of important issues, like Get Set, and generating group discussions which were lead by myself, Emyr, Ian Cawley (YA Development Manager) and Richard Dando (Sport Wales).
After dinner and upon completion of the second round of workshops, the day was drawing to a close. The YA’s were left to brainstorm and action plan their next steps with their 5x60 officers and teachers, which proved highly productive with some good ideas being formed. Around 3:45pm everyone gathered back in the conference room, ready to be entertained! The gold YA’s were tasked with putting a streetcheer dance together in their workshops that represented the Olympic Values.

Needless to say, the quality, innovation and comedy value in each dance was incredible, even the boys were getting stuck in and waving their pompoms around! This made it a difficult decision for the judging panel to decide a winner, but after strong deliberation, they selected team Sydney - made up of YA’s from Flintshire, Wrexham and Denbighshire - as the winning team. They will now go on to represent Wales and compete at the national streetcheer championships!
After the excitement of the dance competition, everyone took to their seats and it was left to Emyr to conduct the closing ceremony. He outlined the opportunities, benefits and experience he had gained from being a YA and the importance that everyone had in the room to promote London 2012 and its values, increase sports participation and to ‘Get on Get Set!’. Then it was left to thank everyone for their attendance and efforts throughout the day, and to invite Richard Dando to the stage to accept an award from the steering group; a London 2012 mug, which I managed to pick up on a recent tour of the Olympic Park.
Richard should take huge credit for the work he has done towards the YA movement in Wales, without him this event wouldn’t even have occurred. He has driven the movement forward, established the national steering group, provided YAs with once in a lifetime opportunities and more than anything been a good friend and close ally in supporting everyone in their roles as a YA. On behalf of the steering group and YAs across Wales: THANK YOU MR DANDO!
Finally, as Chair, my key messages to take away from the conference are these:
  • Start putting some of the ideas you developed at the conference in to action. Work with your fellow YAs, teachers, 5x60 officers and LA contacts to plan and action your ideas.
  • Keep updating the facebook pages and twitter feeds to share good practice and let everyone know of what impact you are making in your county. Check out the YA Britain facebook/twitter pages and go on the YST website where you can download resources and monthly newsletters to stay up to date on all the latest YA news.
  • Sign up to Get Set and the Get Set Network programmes and other initiatives such as Lloyds TSB National School Sports Week and Sky Sports Living for Sport to access the resources you need to help you promote London 2012 in your school and local communities.
  • Nominate yourself or a fellow Young Ambassador to become a torchbearer for London 2012 by visiting the Lloyds TSB, Coca Cola and Samsung websites.
Overall, I hope you have enjoyed the conference and I hope you got as much out of the day as I did.
Keep YA-ing!
Best Regards,

Steve Thomas
Chair of Wales’ Young Ambassador Steering Group