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London 2012 - what's in it for the kids?

The emphasis of London bid for the 2012 Olympics on children and young people was one of the reasons London was chosen to host the games. With less than 300 days to go- what opportunities are there for kids and families getting involved? It's a bit of a maze so we have tried to navigate through it for you. 

A significant part of the opportunities around London 2012 are driven through school engagement and activity.

Get Set is the official London 2012 education programme which individual schools can register for. Once registered, the school and pupils have access to a wide range of resources, plus exclusive rewards and opportunities.  Is your child’s school a member of the get set network? We’d love to hear what your experience has been.

For older children, there are an interesting set of challenges for 11-14 year olds organised by the STEM Network (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Network) in association with LOCOG.  The STEM Challenges are ten activities that have been inspired by London 2012. Each of the STEM challenges is originally launched as a competition for school pupils but the resources from previous STEM Challenges can be used by schools and other organisations after the competition element has passed.

The current Challenge, in association with BT, is to create an App for the London 2012 games. The competition deadline has passed but schools and groups can still take part in the challenge.

Get Set + offers a number of partner programmes, all aimed at inspiring children through the values of the Olympics.

You may have seen adverts for Small Steps for Life which is one of these initiatives, leading the healthy and active lifestyles strand of Get Set,  aimed at encouraging children to have a more healthy lifestyle through a number of small challenges.

We also love the sound of Big Dance Week 7- 15 July 2012 which combines dance activities in schools with fantastic dance events throughout the week.

Get Set also has a Global theme in keeping with the spirit of the Olympics. Students are encourage to be inspired by the Olympics and get creative! The opportunity is for students to come up with different forms of art to show the world what makes the UK such an exciting and diverse place to live while, at the same time, welcoming visitors and athletes from all walks of life? The initiative embraces any form of art- film, visual art, photgraphy and performance.

If you are looking for something to do as a family, then have a look at the Youth and Family strand of the Gold Challenge. This is a charity, working in association with the  British Olympic Association, which aims to inspire people of all ages and physical ability to play sport, and to raise substantial sums of money for charity.  The Family Activity Challenge is all about doing sports together and is perfect for families. Learn one new sport  from a list of over 30 Olympic and Paralympic sports and do two of the following – a family run, walk, cycle or swim. It is accessible for everyone including those with younger children or those who want to involve elder members of the family.

But what about the actual games? If you only managed to get 1 ticket for Judo, or nothing at all, you might be wondering how you can enjoy the games as a family. You could try the Test Events which are rolling out over the next 6 months (some have already taken place). To see the live action during the games, there are the Big Screens around the country- in London these are planned for Hyde Park, Victoria Park, Trafalgar Square and Potters Fields Park.

But experiencing London 2012 is not just about the sport- and this is where I think the really exciting opportunities and experiences are likely to be. The London 2012 Festival is taking place between 21 June to 9 September 2012, and is the culmination of the Cultural Olympiad-the 4 year festival of culture which has existed somewhat under the radar. This promises to be the biggest party the UK has ever seen, with a huge range of events from leading artists from all over the world.

There will be something for all the family, and the majority of events will be free. Current activities which have been anounced include the 2012 Reading Challenge- A huge reading extravaganza in public libraries all over the UK, which aims to reach one million children.

Another highlight is the Tate Movie: “Itch of the Golden Nit” which is the first of its kind: an animated film made by, and for, children across the UK. Created through the award-winning Tate Movie Project, the film is the product of the imagination of thousands of children and is voiced by the best of British talent, including David Walliams and Miranda Hart.

And for Doctor Who fans (go on- we know you are really!) There will be the opportunity to be plunged into one of the Time Lord's adventures in an immersive theatre event by Punchdrunk. The show will make children aged 6 to 12 the stars of an exhilarating live adventure. And there are many more exciting projects for the London 2012 Festival still to be announced...

We’d love to hear what you are planning for London 2012!

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