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VANOC goes on-line to reach students, educators

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Kids and educators all across Canada have a new interactive source for news on the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

The website, Vancouer2010.com/edu, was launched Tuesday in Victoria by the B.C. Ministry of Education and the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games.

“Now our (education) box is virtual,” said VANOC executive vice-president Terry Wright.

Said Education Minister Shirley Bond: “As a government we are big believers that curriculum has to be relevant to young people and I can tell you that in British Columbia there is a growing excitement about the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“This is one of our opportunities to take something that is happening in our province and use it as a tool in our classrooms.

“This is not just about sport… (it is also) about culture and sustainability, things that matter to young people across this country.”

British Columbia Teachers Federation President Irene Lanzinger, while welcoming the education program, hoped it would challenge students to look at some of the less glamorous issues associated with the Games.

“I would hope that the education program asks the difficult questions too,” she said.

“What about government and their priorities and the cost of the Olympics? What about the more controversial side of the Olympics, the scandals that we have seen, the drug testing, the cheating? Is this educational program going to put to kids some critical thinking and some analytical thinking?”

This is the first time an Olympic education program has been created with web-based access. Previous Olympic cities would create a program for schools, package it in boxes and ship it out to educators.

The 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics were the first to create an education program. The tradition was followed in 1988 at Calgary’s Winter Games.

This new site will be opened up to educators around the world after the Beijing Summer Games in 2008 and Olympic officials from London 2012 are already planning to come and study the program in November.

The website has four main sections: a lead story each month, and sections for teachers, students and schools. It will direct educators to organizations and websites with information they can use to build a school based program, which incorporates elements of the Olympic movement and the 2010 Games.

“We didn’t want to re-invent the wheel,” said Wright in explaining why VANOC decided to set up their education site this way. “What we are going to do is create a mechanism and a strategy that allows the great programs that exist with the Canadian Olympic Committee, the Canadian Paralympic Committee, some of our museums, our Ministries of Education, and others across the country, and give them a vehicle to share with the rest of the country.

“So our real focus has been on creating the technological platform.”

VANOC CEO John Furlong said: “Vancouver 2010 creates a climate of possibility that helps us discover the greatness inside ourselves. Through the Vancouver 2010 website, /EDU will connect students to students, teachers to teachers and schools to schools from across Canada. It will provide them with Olympic and Paralympic resources to help them set their own podiums and identify their own dreams.”

The funding for the program has come through VANOC’s sponsorship funds.

Students and educators will be able to put their own stories and projects on the site as well as interact with each other across the country.

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