IOC Young Leader using digital platforms to help others during COVID-19 pandemic

03 Jul 2020

Adapting to the socially-distanced reality of the COVID-19 pandemic, IOC Young Leader and member of the IOC’s Women in Sport Commission Gaby Matus Bonilla has turned to digital platforms to help educate young athletes and enable families to stay active in lockdown.

Can you tell us about the project you are currently working on?

“The project that I have right now is with another IOC Young Leader, Maria Renee, who is also from Guatemala. It’s called ‘These Are Athletes’, and the initial idea was to create eight workshops for athletes between 14 and 18 years old, to educate them on important topics for their lives and their careers. This would be similar to what can be found on Athlete365, but with content that was adapted to their age group. We were planning to hold workshops in person, but the COVID-19 crisis meant that we were not able to deliver the project in this way. So now we are moving to a digital platform, and we are working with the Guatemalan Olympic Committee to produce digital workshops for the athletes.”

YL Gabriela Matus Bonilla and Maria Renee
What topics will the digital workshops cover?

“We are going to be sharing content on topics like nutrition and leadership, but also how to manage their sports career and their professional career together, as many of these athletes are about to finish high school. We have been thinking about the best way to deliver content that is focused on their age group, and also how it should be delivered; and it will be great to have a formal platform to do this.”

What was your inspiration for starting this project?

“Maria Renee and I wanted to cooperate on a project with our NOC, so we reached out to their Athletes’ Commission and asked, ‘How can we help with our experiences as IOC Young Leaders?’ Then we discussed creating this educational content, rather than a community-based project, and they were so happy about it because they also wanted to share this type of content with young athletes.”

What do you hope to achieve through this project?

“It may be ambitious, but maybe we can use this project to identify potential leaders between 14 and 18 years old. It’s an amazing way to engage more people in programmes like the IOC Young Leaders or maybe connect them with local programmes, with leadership and sports and community development. But first our goal with the educational part is to reach more athletes and deliver content easily to them, especially for those who don’t live in the city. It would be difficult for them to travel to courses, but now they can access this content digitally.”

You are also working on a project to help parents and their children stay active during the pandemic. Can you tell us more about that?

“Through my role as an IOC Young Leader, I was invited to become a regional leader for the Yunus Sports Hub, working to involve more people to deliver social projects. Most recently, we have been looking to deliver projects that can tackle issues related to the COVID-19 crisis. My project aims to help families and children who are not doing any type of physical activity at home during the lockdown. So we are creating digital content that encourages them to be active at home, and lets them know why it is important to involve children in these activities. Right now, we are trying to identify different partners here in Guatemala who are willing to share this content, but there are several other projects like this in the region that are also under the umbrella of the Yunus Sports Hub’s COVID-19 response. For example, we have one project that is focusing on workouts for first responders, nurses, doctors and other essential workers. These are short workouts that maybe these people can do while they have a break at work; it is adapted to the time they have available.”

What does it mean to you to be an IOC Young Leader?

“I think the first thing that we all share is the passion, of course, and how important it is to build a better community, a better environment, but also a better world. One of the most important things for me is that this community shares the same values. Even though we live in different countries and come from different cultures, we feel the same passion and we share the same values. We believe that we have to help build a better world, in our own communities and beyond. It is incredible being part of this, and every time we share what we are doing, we feel this positive energy from each one of the IOC Young Leaders. It’s pretty amazing, and we are always trying to help one another – with contacts, or content – and that’s the power of this community; we all share the same positive energy about sport.”

Panasonic Young Leaders

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