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Spirit of Rio Day 4: Inspiring Us All

​Catherine Barker, Head of Music and Performing Arts (Partnership Fund), reflects on how the Group Wide Festival will inspire us all.

Recently I bought an extremely bright pair of yellow socks.

This is not because there is anything fashionable about neon socks. I’m not someone who follows trends, or sets them either. It’s because I’ve started running.

I was very slow, at first, but over time I’ve got better. As time has gone on, I’m now finding myself booking in long runs and races, seeking out excuses to buy increasingly colourful trainers to go with my socks.

On reflection, I wonder why I have suddenly started to do this. I never showed a real zeal for sport as a child, although I tried. I was often absorbed in music, practising for countless hours on my ‘cello, something I do not regret at all.

Partly it is a reaction to getting older. I now want to be fit so that I have the energy to fulfil my ambitions – career, family etc.

My husband is a keen and dedicated runner. With a couple of marathons under his belt and a history of pounding the pavements, his example has no doubt spurred me on.

But I sense that something bigger has happened.

I find myself absolutely captivated by the stories of other athletes, mostly runners, but also those who have overcome adversity to push themselves to achieve amazing things. The legacy of London 2012, and particularly the success of the Paralympians at these games, is hugely inspiring.

Another Olympic year has arrived. And with it, there is an opportunity to inspire once again, to harness the Olympic philosophy of joy through effort to create a better world. At United Learning, we are passionate about providing all pupils with an excellent, rounded education. We call it ‘the best in everyone’. So we are taking this opportunity to inspire the 36,000 young people in our schools.

The Spirit of Rio cultural festival will take place across our national group for the last month of the school year. Sporting, artistic, creative, dramatic, musical and curriculum activities related to the Rio Olympics and Paralympics are taking place across our schools.

Our schools are diverse and stretch the length and breadth of this marvellous country. Over the festival, young people and their teachers across our schools will be united in celebration of our group values, and the Olympic example that can provide such powerful inspiration.

What will come of this?

Maybe a primary school child will learn more about the people of Rio and be inspired to work for an NGO supporting street children in the future. Perhaps a gifted female athlete will make the bold decision to take their training to the next level. A fledgling musician might perform samba for the first time and be fired up to take up an instrument. A teacher might decide, like me, to get moving and improve their health. And buy some nice, new socks.

One thing is for certain: United with Rio, we will all be inspired.

Catherine Barker
Head of Music and Performing Arts

Follow Catherine on Twitter via @United_Music1

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Posted: Jun 23, 2016,
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