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Partnership sends 2012 spirit north
By Alison Freeman, BBC London
The spirit of the London Olympics is heading north, thanks to a partnership between two councils.
The London Borough of Newham has joined up with Barnsley Council in South Yorkshire, to share expertise in a wide variety of fields.
The aim is for the two local authorities to learn from each other's strengths.
For example, young people from Newham will get the chance to visit the open spaces that Barnsley's schoolchildren have access to – like the Peak District National Park.
And in return, Barnsley's youngsters will have the chance to come to London to visit the Olympic Park.
One of the key reasons the partnership has been set up is because Newham has one of the most diverse communities in the UK, compared with Barnsley, where the community is described as being 'monocultural'.
Newham is also hoping that Barnsley will share some of its sporting expertise.
Sue Gilroy, the Paralympic table tennis champion, has been working with schools in the area to encourage youngsters to get involved in the sport, and there are plans to get her into Newham’s schools also.
Barnsley also has a good record with trampolining which it is hoped it will share in exchange for tips on fencing from Newham.
Newham has already begun sharing the secrets of the success of its volunteering programme with officers from Barnsley. They hope to replicate the success there.
Excitement and magic
The partnership was launched via a video link which bridged the distance of more than 150 miles between the two areas.
With the aid of the link, the Mayor of Newham, Sir Robin Wales, and the leader of Barnsley Council Stephen Houghton, were able to sign their pledges to the partnership.
Sir Robin described the partnership as 'a marvellous opportunity'.
He added: "The enthusiasm and imagination shown by Barnsley, and in particular by Steve Houghton, will help to spread the excitement and magic of the Olympics across the whole of the UK.
"I hope this partnership will be the first of many sharing sporting and cultural strengths and experience, encouraging education links, volunteering opportunities and helping create a sustainable Olympic legacy throughout the country."
Councillor Houghton echoed the Mayor's thoughts, adding: "In Barnsley we pride ourselves on producing great sports men and women and I look forward to this partnership, amongst other achievements, encouraging even more of our young people to get involved in sports."
last updated: 03/11/2008 at 11:20