As the Winter Games unfold over the next few weeks, this is a great opportunity to bring families together through sport. But you may be wondering what to talk to your kids about while you watch. Human rights? Security threats? Palm trees at the Winter Olympics? What the athletes wore at the opening Ceremonies?
Drawing on my 1984 Olympic gymnastics past and Mommy to a preschooler present, here are my Sochi-specific recommendations (thankfully, the Games are not in St. Petersburg—too many letters!):
S - for Sport
It’s why the Olympics exist! We watch athletes at the top of their physical and mental game spin, fly, slide, ski, shoot, glide, climb, and send (a new snowboarding term I just learned!) in the hopes of achieving their personal best. How cool is that?Wunderkind snowboarders, graceful ice dancers, adrenaline-crazy lugers, and slap shooting hockey greats ALL going for gold—how cool is that? With 98 sports bringing the world together, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy.
Sebastien Toutant in the snowboard slope style final February 8, 2014. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez
O - for Olympic values
The Olympic Charter states that, “The practice of sport is a human right. Every individual must have the possibility of practicing sport, without discrimination of any kind and in the Olympic spirit, which requires mutual understanding with a spirit of friendship, solidarity and fair play.”—wonderful ideals to teach our children. At these particular Games, the charter is under threat amongst the LGBT community. For some families, this may open the door to political and human rights discussions, for other families it may be time to remember that athletes from 88 countries are competing together and that people from all over the world can, and do, get along.
C - for Canada
Time to wear your funky red mitts and support Team Canada! Create your own Olympics complete with fun activities, like an indoor “skating” competition—kids love to “skate” around . . . with skate guards on, of course! Or hold a curling match with your brooms, some skeleton races down the stars (kidding!)—no matter what you do, make it fun and don’t forget to share how it feels to support your team. Marching into the Olympic stadium in 1984, knowing that so many Canadians were behind us, felt incredible, and we all have an opportunity to wave our flag proudly in the next few weeks!
H - for Healthy Choices
Here’s your chance to embrace healthy active living ideals! To compete at the Olympic level, athletes have to take care of their bodies, eat right, work hard, make sacrifices, manage setbacks, trust their coaches, and build confidence—all traits we want to instill in our kids, I would say. Ask your kids if they could imagine committing to something they love, like these athletes?
I - for Interesting
So many heartwarming, heartbreaking, and interesting stories emerge from the Olympics—what will your family enjoy? Can four-time Olympian and flag bearer, Hayley Wickenheiser, and her team repeat their gold medal ways? Can Patrick Chan settle his nerves? How will the Jamaican bobsledders—who raised $100,000 through crowdfunding to get to Sochi—do? Will Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe wear his Mariachi-inspired race suit? How will Thai Alpine skier and world-renowned concert violinist Vanessa Mae do? As these Games unfold, let the stories emerge and remember—SOCHI is the way to go!
Jessica Tudos and her son Sebastian ready to cheer on Team Canada during the Sochi Winter Olympics!
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