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Sport has a crucial role to play in addressing division and supporting diversity of communities both in Northern Ireland and globally - this was the message from World Super Bantamweight champion, Carl Frampton, at the Sport Changes Life conference recently held at Ulster University.

Ulster University is a founding partner of the Sport Changes Life Foundation, which aims to raise the aspirations of young people on both sides of the Atlantic through the combination of sport and career development activities.

The conference brought together community outreach workers, the PSNI, volunteers and university students to explore the power of sport to enhance ambitions of children from socially and economically deprived areas.

Local boxing hero Carl Frampton is one of the Foundation's ambassadors. Speaking at Ulster University, he said:

"The Sport Changes Life Foundation is reaching out to working class communities to develop the social skills and career prospects of young people through sport. Growing up on an interface, I have witnessed first-hand the tensions that can exist, and boxing gave me a way out. As an ambassador for the Sports for Life Foundation, I want to help young people focus their energy on sport as a way to change their lives for the better."

Deirdre Brennan, Professor of Physical Education and Sport at Ulster University, and co-founder of the Sport Changes Life Foundation added:

"As founding partner of the Foundation, Ulster University is helping to drive social change through sport. The University is at the forefront of research in peace building and conflict resolution. By combining this with our world-leading research in sport, we are delivering real benefits to local communities.

"Since its inception in 2010, 87% of participants in one of the Foundations programmes, eHoops, have taken up or remained in education, training or employment. Statistics from the PSNI also state that, in one area alone there was a reduction in hate crimes by 76% in the first three months of the programme."

One of the Foundation's flagship sports outreach initiatives includes eHoops, a programme of education, sport & personal mentoring targeted at 16- 24 year olds not in education, employment or training.

The Foundation also coordinates the Victory Scholarships programme that invites post-graduate students from America to study at universities across the island of Ireland and deliver sport outreach initiatives in local disadvantaged communities.

The Sport Changes Life Foundation is delivered by Ulster University in partnership with Chaka Travel and is supported by Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, Department of Justice, Department for Employment and Learning and the International Fund for Ireland.

Pictured: World Super Bantamweight champion, Carl Frampton, with Professor Deirdre Brennan, Ulster University, at the Sport Changes Life conference which explored the crucial role of sport in promoting positive social change.