As part of my day job I’ve the privilege to sit on the Tour de France 2014 Delivery group and cover everything from the build-up and cultural events through to the race event itself and legacy once the pedal power moves on.
As a child friendly Leeds ambassador I decided to run a ‘Takeover Day’ for the Tour de France delivery group as part of the Leeds Takeover Month in November 2013. Takeover Day is all about empowerment and gives young people a chance to shape and influence decision-making on things that affect them. It seemed like the perfect pairing – Leeds school children generating ideas and influencing the way in which we deliver the world’s largest annual sporting event when it comes to Leeds. As Gregg Wallace on Masterchef might say ‘It doesn’t get any bigger than this!’.
We ran two full days of activities designed to squeeze every idea out of both Primary School and High School pupils. First we took them through the sheer scale of the Tour de France, its global reach and what it will look like in Yorkshire. They reflected on how the Olympics had felt for them, what had worked and what could have been better. Then the hard work began of providing challenge to existing ideas and coming up with new ones. We kept it creative – Yellow Jersey’s were adorned with masses of ideas for the 100 day cultural festival, opening ceremony, and celebrations. We threw in some T-Shirt making to capture the spirit of what Tour de France meant here in Yorkshire, plus it was a good excuse to get messy! There was plenty of TDF Takeover team group work on how to go about delivering the Grand Depart Stages 1 and 2 including where to get people watching it, making it child friendly, logistics and delivering an amazing spectacle. I can’t begin to capture the brilliance of our young minds in this city. Their commitment and motivation bodes well for our next generation of entrepreneurs. Over the coming months and during July you will see their influence as the ideas will flow through the development and delivery of the event. On the legacy of Tour de France they had clear ideas around the future of cycling in our city and the role of young people. All of this was captured through giant drawings of our city and mood boards to be plastered with legacy ideas.
Their greatest challenge came when all of these ideas were presented to a board made up of Cllr Judith Blake (Excutive member for children’s services and Deputy Leader), Cllr Roger Harrington (Cycle champion for Leeds) and board members of both the Tour de France delivery group and Children’s Services. Every idea has been captured, reported and shared with relevant partners. As a part of Tour de France Takeover Day a genuine chance has been seized to shape and influence the world’s largest annual sporting event. Not many young people can stick that on their CV and this is just the beginning!