With a year to go to the start of the London 2012 Olympic Games, the International Inspiration legacy programme is already changing the lives of 12 million children, the organising committee announced yesterday.

The programme, run by UNICEF, UK Sport and the British Council, uses sport to teach young people how to become leaders, be positive role models and inspire their peers.

In Bangladesh, where thousands of children drown each year, UNICEF has teamed up with the Bangladesh Swimming Federation to teach swimming survival techniques to over 80,000 non-swimmers as part of International Inspiration.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the programme is helping reduce levels of crime in the young people's communities. And in Zambia, sport is being used as a vehicle for educating young people about HIV and AIDS.

Over 200 schools in the UK are linked to a school overseas through International Inspiration. Teachers and young people are developing and sharing new approaches to sport and play - and learning about each other’s cultures and experiences.

"Before being involved with International Inspiration, I wasn’t very confident and I didn’t feel like I would have any opportunities in life," says 18-year-old Noor from Bangladesh, who met Seb Coe in London yesterday.

Noor saved a child from drowning by performing CPR, which she learnt during her training. "Now, I am using the skills and experience I have learnt to further my education and I am much more respected in my community, which is something very important for women in Bangladesh."

Read Noor's blog about her experiences

Read more coverage of International Inspiration in the international and UK press.

 
Mosammed Noor Begum meets Seb Coe in London to celebrate International Inspiration reaching its target of 12 million children a year ahead of schedule. Noor now teachers survival swimming to children in her community in Bangladesh. © UNICEF UK/Hannah Ewing
Mosammed Noor Begum meets Seb Coe in London to celebrate International Inspiration reaching its target of 12 million children a year ahead of schedule. Noor now teachers survival swimming to children in her community in Bangladesh. © UNICEF UK/Hannah Ewing