By: Natalie Stoberman (Originally published October 7, 2014)
Building legacies is one of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games mantras. Organizers are planning to leave a legacy behind through their unique Youth Summit program that is the first of its kind for any Pan Am event.
Fulvio Martinez, Coordinator, Communications & Media Relations, said 300 delegates between 16 and 24 years old throughout Ontario will be chosen through an online application process on toronto2015.org/youth-summit to take part in the weekend’s events in downtown Toronto from March 21-22. The application closes on Oct. 10, but chosen delegates will have the opportunities to collaborate with youth in Lima, Peru; Kingston, Jamaica and Iqaluit, Nunavut via satellite Youth Summits where they can see the impact of community building on various parts of the world. Patience Adamu, Coordinator of Community Outreach & Cultural Affairs, said these youth will also take part in a four month “Building Legacies” program that will focus on learning from other youth, creating opportunities for community building and challenging themselves to apply these skills in their hometowns.
“We are looking for excited young people who see themselves as leaders, are seen as leaders and untapped leaders with potential,” said Adamu. Community perspective and experience are crucial qualities that Adamu said are significant to the role and added the Youth Summit will provide delegates with helpful information on how to continue their outreach.
Summer and winter Olympic Games typically hold youth specific events and Adamu explained this program will be similar to the Olympic program. “Youth delegation get the opportunity to experience the Olympics before the games happen so this will be the equivalent to the Olympic model,” Adamu said.
According to Martinez, this program is vital to investing in Ontario’s youth and planting the seed wherever these youth come from. “We hope to have a direct correlation between Pan Am and community building and make that the main reason why the games will be remembered,” Martinez said. Summer camps, afterschool programs, grassroots sports tournaments and equipment drives are some of the initiatives Adamu and Martinez are hoping become products of the Youth Summit.
“What is comes down to it what the games leave behind,” Martinez explained. “After the games have finished there will be ten venues that will stay behind and serve the community for years to come.” Martinez adds the Youth Summit delegates are the future of the Pan Am legacy with the power to choose what the legacy of the Games will be.