Sports Outreach Officer Karla Hunter with pupils from Acorn Integrated Primary School
The University of Ulster’s School of Sports Studies today (Friday 22 January) launched the ‘Sport for Life’ project, encouraging primary school children to participate in physical activity for life.
The innovative venture, run by Ulster’s Sports Outreach programme will target 100 schools and 3,000 pupils in areas of greatest disadvantage from all around the province.
Outreach officers drawn from students in the School of Sports Studies, will work in partnership with primary school teachers to carry out a 12-week programme, with the aim of educating primary 5 pupils on the health benefits associated with physical activity.
University Vice-Chancellor, Professor Richard Barnett, said: “At the University of Ulster we are totally committed to promoting our leading role in widening access to higher education, promoting creativity and innovation and in enhancing our position as the leading University for sport on the island of Ireland.
“We are delighted to be able to mobilise our richest resources, our students and staff, to contribute to the extension of sport and physical activity programmes to children across Northern Ireland.
“Facilitating access for children and young people to Ulster’s world class sports facilities also adds great value to this initiative.”
Professor Marie Murphy, Co-Director of the Ulster Sports Academy, said: “Sports Outreach has been working in schools throughout the province for ten years and is our most extensive knowledge transfer activity within the School. This support from the Coca-Cola Foundation to undertake this project illustrates the external recognition for the programme and will complement the planned development of the progamme over the coming years.”
Dr Deirdre Brennan, Senior Lecturer and Director of Sports Outreach, said: “Obesity is a growing issue in society, with research showing an increase in the problem in children and teenagers. The ‘Sport for Life’ project endeavours to tackle this by encouraging not only active lifestyles but also healthy living among primary school children – something that can stay with them for the rest of their lives.”
The Sport for Life project has already achieved the highest recognition with London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games awarding the ‘Inspire’ mark to the project. This makes ‘Sport for Life’ one of only three sports programmes in Northern Ireland to achieve this accolade and the University of Ulster to be one of just seven Universities in the UK to have achieved this status.
Dr Brennan said: “Achieving the inspire mark is a wonderful achievement for Ulster Sports Outreach and is recognition of our commitment to make a genuine difference to children and young people through the medium of sport and physical activity. It is fitting that a University committed to be the leading University for Sport on the island of Ireland should be recognised in this way.”
Seb Coe, Chair, London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games said: “The Inspire programme is ensuring the legacy of the 2012 Games starts now as projects like Sport for Life are enabling people in Northern Ireland to make positive life changes.”
Funding for the project to the tune of $330,000 has come from the Coca-Cola Foundation.
The Coca-Cola Foundation is a charity partner with organisations around the world. It supports, through donations, initiatives and programs that respond in a meaningful way to community needs and priorities. The Foundation believes that maintaining an active healthy lifestyle is important for our communities in many different ways including physical and mental well-being, as well as social engagement and is committed to support projects such as ‘Sport for Life’.