It all started with a dream and a passion

A dream about the Olympic Games and the World Championships.

A passion for people. A passion for WHY: Why do some people destroy their own and other people’s lives? Why crime and why social problems?

It all started in 1977–1979. It started with a passion, a dream, a role model and a feeling that nothing was impossible: A passion for people. A role model writing his autograph to a 13 year old in an ice cold January evening and a dream about the Olympic Games. A conviction and faith passed on from a father to his 13 year old son that nothing is impossible when he takes him for a 560k bicycle race.

13 February 1994, people were ecstatic about Johann Olav Koss’ Olympic gold on the 5,000 metres distance. Atle Vårvik also attended the race but was placed way down on the result list. However, in addition to the speed skating and sports Atle also had a passion for people and for preventing destroyed lives and social problems in society – by focusing on values and responsible role models.

Shortly after the Olympic Games in February 1994, Atle Vårvik's dream and passion met, and he got the idea to what is MOT today. In short, his idea was to use top athletes as important resources in preventing social problems in society, such as alcohol and drug abuse.

Atle told about his idea to his wife, Sigrun, who applauded it and was ready to support him. In April 1994, during an "after the Olympics dinner", Atle told about his idea to Johann Olav Koss. Johann liked the idea too and was ready to join in as a sparring partner. The next day, 13 April, they showed up at the director of the Norwegian top-level athletics centre in Oslo and told him about their idea and initiative. He said yes to help and with that MOT was conceived.

Atle's own words why he started MOT and made a life skills concept

  • Why do some people destroy their lives?
  • Why do some people destroy other people’s lives?
  • Why do some people destroy the society?

These were questions I pondered on as a young boy. Meetings with prisoners, and especially the one who spent Christmas Eve in our home in 1977, when I was 12 years old, made me start searching for answers. I began asking many questions and why, why… I interviewed prisoners, read articles in newspapers, magazines and books. I did a lot of thinking and I reflected, observed and wrote school assignments about growing up, crime, how to build a better society and the challenges youth are facing.

I found answers such as: alcohol and drug abuse, bullying, crime, violence, personal tragedies and family tragedies, a culture where people are turned into losers in society and a culture where people drift apart and become isolated.

Courage to work proactively

All my life I've been inspired by role models, heroes and top athletes. All my life I've had more passion for building and creating, rather than attempting to fix what is already destroyed. The question was how to create a concept with inspirational role models and heroes, and a concept that prevents problems and destructive negative factors by focusing on opportunities and constructive positive factors, and to do so before the problems occur. From the beginning in 1994, I wrote down many ideas on how to build lives and society:

  • Create a warmer and safer society
  • Focus on values, awareness and attitude change
  • Inspire to have an offensive and positive way of thinking to avoid hatred, bitterness and jealousy
  • Inspire youth to make their own choices, respect each other's choices and care about each other
  • Inspire to build a culture with awareness and courage – to live, to care and to say no
  • Teach young people "to live"
  • Deliver the message in a "cool" way
  • Famous people using their position to influence the youth
  • Awareness and influential campaign
  • A comprehensive plan
  • Invest in youth as future parents and leaders
  • Make adults care about the youth by setting clear boundaries, and make them care and take responsibility for the neighbours' children, the children in the sports club etc. as well as for their own children

The MOT concept was first and foremost developed to reduce problems in the society and in people's lives. However, we have experienced that there are many additional impacts, such as strengthened awareness, courage, go-ahead spirit, learning orientation, optimism, sense of mastery, joy, passion, inspiration, self-confidence, self-esteem, belief in own abilities, ability to make own choices, solidarity, better class cultures, cultures of safety and cultures of thriving. MOT is also used as a tool in culture-building and leader development.

The greatest part of this, is that youth and others use MOT in their own way! This is powerful, and we don't know where it might take us in the future.