London 2012 - a summer like no other

A summer of inspiration: let's learn from what the Olympics and Paralympics have achieved and build the legacy for the young people of our city...

11 September 2012

(Photograph: Toby Melville/Reuters. Via the Guardian website)

In the 23 years I have lived in London I have never experienced the city to feel so alive, welcoming, safe and energised. No matter how you describe it – 'a summer like no other' or 'a golden games' - we have all experienced 6 weeks of excitement and inspiration that has shaped a new understanding of who we are and what we can achieve.

Congratulations to LOCOG and all the organisers involved in realising an incredible London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The games surpassed all expectations – from the intelligence, wit and vision of the opening ceremonies, to the record breaking achievements of the Olympic and Paralympic athletes, we have much to reflect on and learn from - we now know what is possible – and this learning is where the legacy of the games must start.

Inspire a Generation

For all of us who work with young people we have a responsibility to harness our experience of the summer to find a way of making the rhetoric of 'Inspire a generation' into a reality. This will be challenging in difficult economic times. But if we reflect on the words of Stephen Hawking:

"There is no such thing as a standard or run of the mill human being. We are all different. What is important is that we have the ability to create. We share the same human spirit."

This profound statement needs to act as a bench mark for how we embrace the potential of London's young people. London is a creative city. We live in an extraordinary place with a wealth of creative and cultural resources. Through our Bridge work we have found that young people's access to this creative and cultural capital needs to be more equally distributed, and over the next 3 years we will work towards changing this.

Harnessing our cultural and creative assets

This has to be the entitlement that we must build for the young people of London - the 1.25 million young people who live and learn in our city should be at liberty to experience a more cohesive and coherent offer. We must harness our cultural and creative assets more effectively, join them together, and build a better and more equitable offer. Hawking said:

"Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious."

The best city in the world for young people's cultural and creative development

London is world leading. The summer of 2012 has affirmed this. But now we must join together to make London the best city in the world for young people's cultural and creative development.

To do this – we need to think big, use our collective imagination to model, question and explore beyond what we currently know - we need to look up at the stars!