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Olympian Backs Ulster Sports Outreach

4 June 2010

The University of Ulster today welcomed Olympic hero Wendy Houvenaghel to celebrate the end of a week-long celebration of the University Sports Outreach Sport for LIFE programme.

The Ulster Sports Outreach initiative, which is funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation, is hosting five days of festivals for 1,500 pupils from 50 primary schools in Northern Ireland who took part in the project.

The cyclist, who is in preparations for this year’s Commonwealth Games in October, said: “I’ve been very impressed with the Sport for LIFE festival and I’ve had a look around the University facilities and they are just world class. I wish that I had better access to them but I am based in Cornwall and I’d really love to have these sorts of resources on my doorstep.

“Sport for LIFE has been an excellent initiative and one in which the children can take through and learn from and apply to everyday life. I hope that what I do can inspire the children to aim high in life and achieve success in their given subjects, academically or in sport.”

The Sport for LIFE project, which was launched in January, is designed to encourage school children to lead healthy active lifestyles.

Dr Deirdre Brennan, Senior Lecturer and Director of Sports Outreach, said: “We are delighted to welcome all our programme participants to the University to celebrate their success in completing the Sport for LIFE programme.

“This programme is one that is just win-win all round. Our students get first class work experience, the teachers benefit from the resources developed and the pupils get 12 weeks of well structured but fun activities that educate them on the importance of being physically active and eating healthily.”

There were 66 Student Sports Outreach Officers drawn from the School of Sports Studies trained to deliver the 12-week programme in partnership with primary school teachers.

Sandra Newell, from Dromore Road Primary School who took part in Sport for LIFE, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to say that I think the Sport for LIFE programme was fantastic and was a good combination of physical activity and science and was carried out in a fun manner.  The supporting websites and weekly tasks were also excellent.”

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.

At the launch of the scheme in January, Seb Coe KBE, Chair of 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.”