before the Olympics, sport as a tool for social innovation

Suspended almost 15 feet high, Ibrahim shows a clear smile. He did not hesitate for a second, tackled the climbing wall without trembling and after reaching the top of the wall he took advantage of the view without the slightest dizziness. The descent, well wedged in the harness, is obviously too fast, but he must leave room for his comrades.

They are six students from the Sylvain-Dauriac primary school in Bagatelle, a popular district in Toulouse, to make their range in the discipline, this Wednesday afternoon, at Quéfet’s high school in Tournefeuille, in the suburbs of Pink City. But it is already a small revolution, possible thanks to Paris 2024.

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The project in which these children participate is part of the “Impact 2024” program, which for the past two years has supported initiatives carried out by several players, athletes and institutions. A fund has been set up for this purpose. By 2021, 4.9 million euros had been spent on 224 projects. They will be around 250 this year to share an envelope of 5.8 million euros.

“With our brand, we bring visibility to projects that show how sports can change lives, emphasizes Damien Combredet-Blassel, Sport & Society Manager in Paris 2024. We also want them to help get the different actors used to working together, and that such good practice will take hold after the Games, if possible. »

“Extended horizons”

Gifted with € 42,000, the Occitanie league project of the French Mountain and Climbing Federation carries this ambition. “It starts with a desire to introduce young people from the neighborhoods to our discipline, far away from their worries, to expand their horizons by taking them to the mountains,” reveals Anne Geernaert, the director of the regional FFME league.

Initially, the desire was to connect schools from two priority urban policy districts (QPV), Bagatelle in Toulouse and Laubadère in Tarbes (Hautes-Pyrénées), and to allow regular exchanges in places that offer access to the many pleasures of the mountains (hiking, climbing, via ferrata, etc.).

But the realization testifies to the difficulties encountered in this kind of project. “We had misjudged the opposition to the health pass in the neighborhoods, and therefore we could not in the autumn of 2021 launch the operation with middle school students because they could not have access to the gyms”, illustrates Anne Geernaert.

At the end of the winter, after an inauguration on a mobile climbing block at the folk high school, which had some success, more than a hundred students showed interest. But when planning a trip to the world-class climbing wall of Tournefeuille, “We fell during Ramadan and only two students showed up, also tells Ethel Barnabé, former CPE from the college and experienced climber at the origin of the project. We therefore turned to the primary school CM1-CM2, which took advantage of the unexpected! “.

“Encouraging perseverance, the biggest challenge”

On the side of Tarbes, it’s a six-month postponed inauguration of a new climbing wall, which has also postponed the project. Its initiators are in the starting block to really bring it to life from the start of next school year. “It’s a long job to catch young people, also to convince parents to trust us, remembers Ethel Barnabé. In our territories, it takes a lot of energy to register an activity in the long run. Encouraging perseverance is our biggest challenge. »

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In Tarbes, Marlène Margui, the project’s relay and member of the Roc & Pyrène club, wants to add another dimension to the affair: to convince, in addition to young people, certain mothers. “To form a group of women and ultimately succeed in a common challenge on an ascent in the summer of 2023, explains the host, who also works with urban politics. There are many obstacles to overcome, especially the cultural weight, which does not facilitate access to sports for women in these neighborhoods, but I would like to believe it. And I hope to demonstrate with this pilot project that it is possible and to inspire other clubs. » To experiment and then expand, such is the challenge for Paris 2024.


Make it better around disability

With its Impact program, Paris 2024 also hopes to provoke one “interesting lever effect”says its manager, Damien Combredet-Blassel: “When we invest € 1, it allows us to raise € 3 from other partners.” Since 2020, Paris 2024 has had 700,000 recipients of its program. An effort to continue and highlight projects on access to sports for the disabled, “currently our area of ​​weakness”recognizes the General Delegate. “Disability projects require a lot of time, skills and specific equipment, which explains the difficulty of bringing them to light, tip Apolline Vedrenne, Paralympic referee in Occitania. But Paris 2024 should put special focus on disability sports next year. »

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