Michael Johnson has announced the launch of the Michael Johnson Young Leader’s Programme, which aims to provide young people from around the world with the tools they need to fulfill their potential through sport.

By developing an in-depth, sustainable programme focusing on sporting performance, leadership development and community engagement, Michael Johnson’s Young Leader’s Programme will give selected young people – all of whom come from a diverse range of challenging backgrounds – the confidence, skills and resources to make a positive impact on their futures.

Kicking off in an Olympic year, the first edition of the Young Leader’s Programme will provide an ongoing programme of empowerment, education, support and mentoring to twelve young people.

The programme will begin with an intensive course at the Michael Johnson Performance Center, Michael’s training ground in Dallas, where they will have support to enhance their sport performance skills, receive leadership training and get time and support to develop their ideas about how they can contribute to their communities and make a difference for fellow young people back home.

The young leaders will be travelling to Dallas in May from all over the world – Mexico, Nepal, UK, Cambodia, Armenia, Kenya, Uganda, India, Brazil and Tanzania – and were carefully selected not only for their potential to develop sporting talent but their capability to lead and a desire to contribute to their community.

Following the course in Dallas, the Young Leader’s Programme will work with these individuals through a personalised twelve month plan, where they will receive virtual sports training sessions designed by Michael Johnson Performance Center, ongoing mentoring to continue their leadership development, and tangible support for their own goals and projects aimed at using sport to help their community.

Following the year-long engagement, the Young Leader’s Programme will continue to support these young leaders long after as alumni of the programme, providing them with network, profile, and tangible education and employment opportunities.

Michael Johnson said: “These young people are already doing incredible things in their communities. We have a participant who is dodging bullets in order to provide sports training for young girls. We have a participant who is campaigning the UK government for better access to disability sport. They are truly inspiring and have shown me the incredible plans they have for their communities, but which they need help to implement. We will be here to give them that help and cannot wait to see what they can achieve.”

“It’s not about finding the next Gold Medallist – although if someone has the potential then Michael Johnson Performance will identify and nurture that talent. It is our hope that successful young people from the Young Leader’s Programme will become community leaders, or be the first of their family to go to college, or start their own sports charity or clubs. Success here means that every single young person who has gone through the Young Leader’s Programme will have the skills and opportunity to achieve a better future.”

Participant Freya Levy from the UK, who overcame muscular dystrophy to represent GB at wheelchair basketball, said; “I feel incredibly honoured to be chosen to be part of the Young Leader’s Programme program. To go to an elite top level performance centre and learn from a former Olympic Legend such as Michael Johnson is an incredible opportunity. I’m hoping the lessons I can learn will help me as I continue to pursue accessibility for disabled sport back in the UK. There is so much more I want to do in this area and I am so excited that the Young Leader’s Programme will help me achieve it.”