Inspiring a generation – the buck stops with you

The key message from London 2012 was ‘inspire a generation’ and the likes of Chris Hoy, Ellie Simmonds, Mo Farah, Jonnie Peacock, Bradley Wiggins and Jessica Ennis did just that. However, almost a year later is this message still as strong as it was post-Olympics?

I suspects it’s waned a little. We can no longer expect the golden girls and boys of 2012 to inspire the next generation or, in fact, inspire the nation to get active, try something new, strive to do better. We, the parents, the other halves, the children, the friends, the work colleagues need to inspire those around us to change their lives for the better.

Almost 4 years ago, I decided to change my life. I didn’t want to be the person I was becoming. Sat at home, gaining weight, worried that I couldn’t keep up with the demands of a young family. I set myself a challenge and achieved what I wanted; to get fit and get active.

My life has changed more than I could have imagined. I run, I cycle, I swim. I have energy to do what I want to do and enjoy the challenge of each new workout. I look forward to the challenges I’ve set for myself the week ahead.

However, I’ve not just done this for myself. I’ve done it for my family. I want to be fit for them and not the couch potato I so easily could have become (or even was becoming).

That’s not all though. I want my children to see me as a role model as much as Wiggins, Hoy, Farah, Ennis, etc etc. I want them to see me being active, taking on challenges and, where possible, achieving them. That doesn’t mean that I have to be an elite runner, cyclist or swimmer. At best, I’m average at any of those activities. It doesn’t matter how good you are. What matters is that you’re out there doing it. In fact, it’s probably more inspiring to others if you’re not the fastest runner, swimmer, cyclist, not the most competent badminton player, etc, etc.

Whether it’s simply knowing that Daddy’s been for a run, a swim or a bike ride (or even all three in a triathlon), competed in a road race or just been out being active. Or maybe it’s sharing a great experience such as a parkrun with me. I want my children to see that even their Dad in his (rapidly approaching) mid-forties isn’t afraid to get out and compete against people half and double my age. I want the to grow up and join me on runs, bike rides, swims. I want them to be active at school and outside school. I don’t expect them to compete for their county or country but simply to enjoy being active.

I love my boys so much and want them to learn that being active is such a rewarding and enriching experience. Not only for the health benefits it gives you but also as a means of socialising with many different people. People, in many cases that you’d not get to meet otherwise.

Although we may want to lay the responsibility of inspiring the next generation with those that excelled at London 2012, I know that it’s up to me to inspire my children (and maybe even some of my friends!) and I’m doing my best to do so. Are you?

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