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2010 LegaciesNow expands focus

Communities around B.C. to benefit from programs

As part of its mandate to develop homegrown B.C. athletes for 2010 and beyond, 2010 LegaciesNow plans to visit more than 90 communities around the province to share ideas, plan courses of action, and provide funding to initiatives.

Marion Lay, the president and CEO of 2010 LegaciesNow, says there is a demand for this kind of support in every corner of the province.

"When we were still in the bid phase, we toured the province and listened to what the local leaders and sports communities had to say," she said. "We’ve been working to deliver some of those things through our LegaciesNow programs, and the grants and contributions being offered by our partners at the provincial and federal level. Now we’re looking at ways to be more actively involved in those communities."

As one example, Lay says that communities are asking for more Level 3 coaches and programs to train coaches.

"We’ve never had partnerships to build that program around the province, and we’d like to do it with our resources. I think we’ll see more things like power skating programs available to communities, and more Level 3 technical courses available to athletes in different sports.

"If that’s what makes sense to a community, then we’ll help them put together a strategy to make that happen."

One program that has already been a success is a grant initiative that provides athletes with money to travel out of the province for competitions. Some communities around the province have taken advantage of that opportunity, but more could be done at the local level to promote it to athletes, says Lay.

In each of the 90 communities 2010 LegaciesNow will work with around the province, a community committee will act as a liaison for the program, keeping their local athletes and sport groups aware of the tools and opportunities that are available.

In addition, LegaciesNow will also provide communities with access to a speaker’s bureau that features athletes. Those athletes will travel the province, talking to schools and sports organizations, promoting athleticism, literacy and the 2010 Games.

Although LegaciesNow has been successful for B.C., Lay says the group has no intention of becoming a national group. They will bring national programs to B.C. and share their information with the rest of Canada, but the focus is still on developing B.C. athletes for 2010.

"There is some interest in what we’re doing at the national level – we see their stuff and bring it to B.C. or they’ll borrow from us… but we’re not going to be setting up LegaciesNow franchises," said Lay.

"Our job is really to maximize the impact around B.C., and we’re working with our partners around the province, these new committees, Maureen Douglas and the crew in Whistler to make sure that happens."

Premier Gordon Campbell said the goal of the committees was to ensure that Olympic opportunities are leveraged around the province in the areas of sports and recreation, arts and culture, tourism and convention, trade and investment, procurement, human resources, literacy and volunteerism.

"British Columbians share a growing sense of excitement about 2010 and the chance to showcase the best of B.C. to the world," he said. "Community leaders across the province have already begun working on ideas to make the most of this incredible opportunity. Now it’s time to work together and explore how to transform that vision into lasting benefits for B.C. Communities."

At the Union of B.C. Municipalities annual conference two weeks ago the premier introduced one of those programs, called Pictures B.C. In meeting with NBC, the organizing committee learned that networks and news organizations will be focussing a lot of coverage on the province as a whole, and that it’s difficult to get pictures and video footage to go with their stories – hence the tendency of the coverage to focus on a handful of local landmarks in their coverage. By preparing a library of images and video in advance, there’s an opportunity to showcase more of the province to potential investors and visitors.

"To a lot of the people in the province the Olympics are kind of a mystery," said Lay. "You’ve got the Games, now how do you get the benefits out there. We know it’s one of the largest events in the world, it’s one of the largest media portals in the world, so how do you take advantage of that?"