Team carrying flag for city and nation

Another International Children’s Games has come to a close and again I am left in awe of this event and its capacity to bring out the best in young people in every way.

Once again, Lake Macquarie was the only Australian city represented, and once more our young athletes proved to be amazing ambassadors, in and outside of the sporting arena.

The opening ceremony was spectacular and Team Lake Mac was the first called in to the ground – bearing their team mascot, a giant kangaroo that has been to all the Games in which our City has been represented.

The competition was very stiff and while there were no medals for our team this year, most of the athletes rose to the occasion by posting personal best performances, spurred on by the atmosphere and the inspiration of representing their city and country against competitors from all over the world.

There was plenty to cheer about from the sideline. Travis Peterson went within a whisker of a medal, finishing fifth in the boys’ shotput, others made finals, and all competitors put in a great effort.

It was an amazing experience, made all the better for the children and their support group of parents by the fact they had the opportunity to explore the host city of Jerusalem and soak in its fascinating history.

I enjoyed exploring Jerusalem as well, both as a sightseer and in my capacity as part of three-person study group from Council looking at initiatives under way in leading global smart cities.

In Jerusalem we learned about a number of interesting programs that are improving lives for residents, including the DigiTel Initiative, an program residents can sign up for to receive notifications on everything from the half-price theatre tickets to a deadline reminder for enrolling their children in kindergarten.

Our group also looked at an innovative co-working space that has been successful in launching not only new businesses (Israel has one of the highest number of start-ups in the world) but also social assistance programs.

From Tel Aviv, we have moved on to England, where we will be looking at projects and programs in London, but also in Manchester and Bristol, regional cities renowned for embracing innovation and change.