Paddle for life: A European and world dream

  • 2014-01-30
  • by David W. Train

“The problem of climate change calls for concerted efforts, increased
attention and new solutions,” said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite in Brussels on October 24, 2013.

On New Year’s Eve, as Lithuanian’s presidency of the European Union
came to a close, I sent President Grybauskaite a bouquet of flowers and
a message: “Congratulations on the Lithuanian legacy of the EU
presidency. Thank you! It gives me new hope for the EU and world. Good paddling.”

In July 2013, sadly, I knew nothing about Lithuania. Then I met two
Lithuanian students in my local, the Anchor in Fladbury, in the heart
of England. It changed the course of my life. I now love Lithuania
because I believe she is the key to keeping the European Union
together, by creating a “Dream for Europe and the World” and, by so
doing, “Saving Our Home on the Blue Planet.”

All is in place for it to happen and all it needs is for the
British-Lithuanian Society to support President Grybauskaite, in every
way that they can, in her efforts to inspire U.S. President Obama to sign
three Paddles for Life, shaped in the form of the Chinese Dragon Boat
paddle, at the G8 in Sochi in June this year, together with Russian President
Putin and the other G8 leaders. It may seem an Olympian task, but I
believe that it is possible and when it happens, it will change world
history. Let me explain.

I am a former British Olympic coach and for the last twenty years I
have been working on a set of ideas, inspired by Chinese and Hawaiian
boating culture, to bring all the world on board to tackle climate
change, humanity’s greatest long term problem. The ideas include a
stable team boat which is a school on the water and raft of an
inclusive philosophy where all can take part, a Paddle for Life,
regattas, and a story. The ideas can be viewed on You Tube: Paddle for
Life-David Train.

Children in primary schools make their Paddle for Life from a wooden
sword and shield, symbolizing conflict to cooperation. They paint
their individual design on their paddle on an environmental theme,
their parents and friends sign the back of the paddle and help by
sponsoring it for some good cause. The children plant trees to replace
the wood used and then keep their paddle “for life,” thus taking their
first step in sinking carbon.

To start the whole process in any country, leaders are asked to sign a
Paddle for Life, which is used as a perpetual trophy for a regatta or
boat race. In the case of Lithuania it would be, for instance, the
Vilnius-Main Regatta for the Blue Planet. The ideas have already been
launched in the United States and China but, to accelerate the process,
we need to get President Obama and President Xi on board, by inspiring
them to sign a Paddle for Life. Three Paddles for Life have been
signed, by Presidents Barroso, Van Rompuy, Shulz and Grybauskaite. One
of the paddles is for Lithuania, the other two are for Hawaii.

When President Grybauskaite signed the three paddles, she said that she
was happy to write to President Obama to inspire him to take part, which
is brilliant, but Obama is a very busy man and we need to give Grybauskaite all the help that we can. I have written to all the members of parliament in Worcestershire.  Four have already written to President Grybauskaite and to David Cameron, to ask for his
support. Two MEP’s, Phil Bennion and Edward McMillan-Scott, have done
similarly and written to Nick Clegg.

I have written to all the heads of state and governments who are members of the European Council, and had replies from Belgium, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Italy, Malta and Cyprus. I have also written to the Queen, President Putin, the Pope and Tony Blair, who was the first world leader to sign a Paddle for Life. If you would like to see any of my letters, please email me on

However, we urgently need help from all who care about Lithuania, the future of the European Union and the future of the planet.  In the first instant, like the Worcestershire MP’s and the MEP’s, a letter of support to President Grybauskaite from the British-Lithuanian Society would be welcomed, but any one who has access to David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Ed Miliband or any other political leader could also help.  All it needs is a letter or two and we could look forward to a more secure future for our children.

Key to that future is to get the message to President Xi and the standing committee of the Politburo, and I have already written to them. As I have said, the ideas have already been launched in China. The Chinese leadership is looking for ways to take the ideas of emission reduction and environmental awareness deep into the hearts of all their
leaders and people. We in Europe, inspired by Chinese boating culture have a way of helping them to do it. We have a new solution. President Xi will be delighted with the ideas, as will President Obama, if only we can get them over the firewall that surrounds them and all leaders.

The way over the firewall is President Grybauskaite, with the backing of all the European leaders that we can together inspire to act. I have a vision of President Grybauskaite on the white horse of the Coat of Arms of Lithuania grasping a Paddle for Life, instead of holding a sword and shield, and leaping the firewall wall surrounding President Obama. It could be a new story for the children and people of Lithuania!  I hope that every member of the British Lithuania Society will, in the true spirit of the Olympics, “Take Part” and help to create that story.

With President Obama on board, President Xi will surely follow and then Lithuania, with a European and world story in place, can use it to set the European Union on a new course, propelled by the youthful and huge spirit of Lithuania.

Then, perhaps one day, a Lithuanian film maker will use the story to create a film of how Lithuania took a set of ideas, invented in Britain and inspired by Chinese and Hawaiian culture, created a European Dream, gave it to Russia, Europe and the world, and saved civilization.  I hope it will be called “From Lithuania with Love.” It would surely
bring a golden smile to President Putin and help him, as I do, to love Lithuania. All the world will win gold. What a wonderful legacy of the Lithuanian presidency of the EU.

by David W. Train. Former Olympic coach. New Year’s Eve 2013.