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New Sport Outreach Initiative Inspires Schoolchildren

  

The University of Ulster has launched a new community sports programme which will encourage schoolchildren across Northern Ireland to be more active.

Ulster’s Sports Outreach Unit celebrated the beginning of the Sport for LIFE Legacy programme and the completion of the hugely successful Sport for Life initiative that has been delivered to around 3000 children across 102 primary schools. 

Speaking at the recent launch event in the Jordanstown campus, Dr Deirdre Brennan, Director of Sports Outreach at Ulster, said: ”Ulster Sports Outreach is dedicated to the provision of high quality work based learning opportunities for students in the Ulster Sports Academy. 

“Our student volunteers who service these programmes are the real champions of the Inspire projects we deliver and we are indebted to them. Their contribution makes a significant positive impact on school sport and physical activity within the province.” 

The Sport for LIFE programme, launched in January 2010, was a two-year physical activity and health intervention initiative for ‘year five’ primary school pupils from areas of greatest disadvantage in Northern Ireland. 

It was designed to increase knowledge and understanding of the benefits of regular participation in sport and physical activity. The programme promoted participation in sport and physical activity and its associated social, physical and psychological benefits as well as the importance of a balanced diet for a healthy lifestyle.

Following Sport for LIFE’s successful implementation, the programme was extended for a third year in order to deliver the Sport for LIFE Legacy programme. It will focus on offering a dedicated education and support programme to ‘pre-service’ teachers from teacher training colleges within Northern Ireland, thereby ensuring that the programme has the potential to continue in primary schools for many years to come.

Ulster’s Sports Outreach Programme Officer, Richard Gormley, said: “The Sports Outreach Unit works under the motto that Sport is for L.I.F.E (Living, Integration, Fun and Education). With this philosophy in mind designing and delivering programmes like Sport for LIFE aim to inspire young people from areas of social disadvantage to lead more physically active lifestyles.”

Both the original Sport for LIFE programme and the new Legacy programme have been awarded a London 2012 Inspire mark, which is awarded by the London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) to innovative and exceptional non-commercial projects, which are inspired or energised by the 2012 Games.

These awards were recognised by Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Carál Ní Chuilín, who wrote a letter of congratulations saying that this achievement, “is even more commendable given that it is the third Inspire mark to be awarded to a Sports Outreach Unit project, and the sixth to a University of Ulster project - the most received by a single organisation in the north of Ireland”.

Lord Sebastian Coe, Chair of the LOCOG, said: “The Sports Outreach programmes are encouraging school pupils to fulfil their potential. I am proud that with the help of partners such as the University Of Ulster, we are delivering our vision to use the power of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games to boost participation in physical activity.”

The Sport for LIFE Legacy programme is supported by The Coca Cola Foundation.

Caption: Launching the new Sport For LIFE Legacy programme, (left - right) the University of Ulster's Natasha Rushe, Project Support Assistant, Vice-Chancellor Professor Richard Barnett, Dr Deirdre Brennan, Director of Sports Outreach, Richard Gormley, Sports Outreach Programme Officer and children from Acorn Integrated School in Carrickfergus.