The University of Ulster's Sports Outreach programmes, which encourage young people to be more active using the Olympic Games as inspiration, have received three prestigious national awards.
The London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG) has given the London 2010 'Inspire’ mark to the Sports Outreach Unit’s Sport for Life, Sport for Life Legacy and School Sport Legacy programmes.
The Inspire mark is awarded by the Committee to innovative and exceptional non-commercial projects, which are inspired or energised by the 2012 Games.
Sports Outreach Programme Officer, Richard Gormley, said: “We are delighted to receive these awards. 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 which aim to inspire young people from areas of social disadvantage to take part in sport and physical activity has great synergy with the Olympic and Paralympic values.”
The Unit has also been recognised by Minister of Culture, Arts and Leisure CarÃ¡l NÃ ChuilÃn. She 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’.
The first project, Sport for Life, was launched in January 2010. It encourages primary school children to participate in physical activity for life.
Around 100 schools and 3,000 pupils in areas of greatest disadvantage signed up to a 12-week programme, delivered by Ulster Sports Academy student volunteers in partnership with professional teachers.
Following on from this initiative, which concluded in June 2011, the Sport for Life Legacy programme was developed. It offers primary school teacher trainees a two-day intensive Sport for Life course. Therefore a sustainable legacy is being created for children to receive the programme in schools across Northern Ireland in the future.
The most recent programme to receive the Inspire mark, the School Sport Legacy programme, focuses on delivery of a variety of indoor and outdoor Olympic sport participation sessions and workshops in schools province-wide.
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.”
Lord Sebastian Coe, Chair of 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.”
This is the first time in Olympic and Paralympic history that non-commercial projects and events have had the opportunity to be officially recognised as being part of the Games.
The Inspire programme is a key way in which people in Northern Ireland can engage with the 2012 Games. The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure is responsible for delivering the Inspire programme in Northern Ireland, as part of its wider strategy to create a local legacy from the 2012 Games.