As part of my role as International Inspiration Ambassador, I was asked to travel to Jordan to see at first hand the impact that London 2012 is already having on the lives of children in that country.


Jordan remains remarkably quite a peaceful country, sandwiched as it is between its neighbouring countries of Iraq, Israel, Syria and the Lebanon.




Although sport is very popular in Jordan, Jordanian schools have limited sport facilities and do not yet provide inclusive PE lessons. There are few parks and playgrounds in the cities and even less in rural areas. This is in part due to the myriad of challenges linked to local cultural norms.


The participation of girls, displaced children living in Palestinian refugee camps, disabled children and other marginalised children, in sport and play activities, is generally frowned upon. Combined with the reality that many people still don't realise the importance of physical activity in the development of young people it means that little emphasis has been put into making sure that sport is part of the school curriculum. International Inspiration wants to change these attitudes.


My first engagement was a visit to Souf Camp – one of Jordan's Palestinian refugee camps with a population of over 20,000. The Souf Boys Elementary School sits within the camp and educates over 700 young boys aged between four and 16 years. Funding from International Inspiration has been focused on inclusiveness and has meant that there are now weekly sports sessions which fully involve disabled children. 


In one of the sessions I meet a boy called Mouayyed Badran, who later took me to his home. Mouayyed uses a wheelchair and he tells me that through these sports sessions he has been able to take part in PE activities alongside his friends. He was so enthusiastic; I was impressed that something so simple is making such a difference to Mouayyed's life.


That afternoon I met His Royal Highness, Prince Ra’ed, who is President of the Higher Council for the Affairs of People with Disabilities.  Because of his commitment to the inclusion of people with disabilities in all sectors, including sports, I am really hopeful that this is just the start of better integration in Jordan.



My next stop was to the Hanninah Girls Sport Centre, where I meet with a group of adolescent girls including two 17-year-old "young leaders" called Anyod and Bayan. They have both been trained to run weekly sports sessions for girls their age and below thanks to funding from International Inspiration. The training has improved the girls' confidence, their sports session was varied and included games designed to build concentration skills. I was happy to join in with their basketball skills although my dancing didn't impress.


Day two was the launch of International Inspiration in Jordan, which was a very important date for all involved.  


This is a unique programme, and as part of the presentation, I spoke about my involvement and how sport has changed my life. I also met some Jordanian Paralympians who wanted to tell me how sport had influenced their lives.  They believe that their involvement in sport encouraged them to attend school, and they reinforced what I have long believed, that through sport, people can find the courage to try to achieve amazing feats. 
Later, at the Queen Zain Girls National School I met with two young girls, Rawan and Sajida who enthusiastically introduced me to the II funded leadership training programme they've taken part in, the skills from which they then pass on to their peers during classes. "Keep smiling" was one of their mottos and they certainly did; their enthusiasm rubbed off on their peers.


It was a short visit but I saw how International Inspiration is using sport to provide young people with skills and knowledge which transform their lives. Simple things, such as including children with disabilities in PE lessons, or giving young people the training and skills to become effective members of society – this is an Olympic and Paralympic legacy to be proud of, and one that I am definitely excited to be part of.


Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson won a 16 Paralympic medals, including 11 gold. International Inspiration is a unique partnership of public and private organisations. The London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has joined forces with the programme's key delivery partners, UK Sport, UNICEF UK and the British Council, to bring International Inspiration to fruition as a core strand of the London 2012 international education programme. Other partners and funders of International Inspiration include the Department for Culture Media and Sport, Department for International Development, the Premier League, the British Olympic Association, the British Paralympic Association and the Youth Sports Trust.