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UTAH SCHOOLCHILDREN TO STUDY `OLYMPISM’

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Utah schoolchildren will learn good sportsmanship and other lessons taught by the Olympics, even if Salt Lake City isn't selected next year to host the 2002 Winter Games.

Winter Games boosters, who ear-lier this year stopped some of the state's brightest students from debating the Olympic bid, back the study of the origin and goals of the Games.The educators behind the project, funded through a $25,000 grant from football player Steve Young's Forever Young Foundation, are hoping to avoid controversy.

"We've tried very hard not to make this a political issue," project manager Kim Hadfield said. "We've tried to walk that fine line of being neutral," of not selling the bid to students.

Hadfield, the Davis School District social studies coordinator, said the 20 or so educators working on the project with him include both supporters and opponents of the bid.

Their product, "Olympism: Lighting The Way," a curriculum guide for teachers, is being developed for the Salt Lake Olympic Bid Committee's board of trustees.

Board members got a preview of the guide and a five-part video series during their Wednesday meeting. The project is expected to be distributed to schools statewide early next year.

It'll stay even if Salt Lake City isn't picked by the International Olympic Committee next year to host the 2002 Winter Games, Hadfield said. The host city will be named in June.

"Whether Salt Lake gets the bid or not, the Olympics will continue and kids want to know about them," Hadfield said. The teaching materials are "neutral and generic enough" to work in the classroom either way.

The draft overview distributed to the board of trustees Wednesday suggests lessons in understanding "Olympism," the science of movement, personal worth, understanding differences and setting goals.

The lessons are supposed to be incorporated into the existing curriculum in all grades. For example, a world history class might study the ancient Greek origins of the Olympics.

During Salt Lake City's unsuccessful bid for the 1998 Winter Games, a van of materials about the Olympics, sponsored by the bid committee, toured schools through-out the state.

Besides the report from the schools project, the board of trustees also heard from other committees trying to spread the Olympic message to Utahns, part of a renewed effort to boost support of the bid.

An effort is under way to keep communities throughout the state up-to-date on the progress of the bid. Jill Remington said the community information committee is sending out fact sheets to local government leaders monthly.

"We hope they'll be better informed (and) feel part of the loop so they'll be better salespeople," Remington said.