Belfast Telegraph

Five-star plan encourages children to get into sport

by Natalie Irvine

Children from a south Belfast primary school experienced a taste of things to come in the London 2012 Olympic Games last week— but all from a disabled view point.

Chris Holmes, multiple gold medal-winning Paralympian swimmer and Director of Paralympic Integration for the London 2012 Paralympic Games, dropped into St Ita’s Primary School, last Thursday to see Newtownabbey’s paralympic gold medallist, Michael McKillop, deliver a presentation to allow the pupils to gain a deeper insight into the forthcoming games from a disabled perspective — all of this as part of the nationwide ‘Five-Star Disability Sports Challenge’ education project.

Holmes said: “As a former athlete, I know how important it is to support local grassroots disability sport.

“The Five-Star Disability Sports Challenge is not only key to helping us achieve our vision of inspiring young people to take up sport, but it will also help us change the public’s attitude towards disability. I am very excited about this programme, and how it will help more people get involved with London 2012.”

Michael McKillop, who won his gold medal in the 800m at the Beijing Paralympic Games in 2008, delivered the presentation part of the day along with Aubrey Bingham and Elaine Reid from Disability Sports NI, who are managing the project.

The project involves disabled sportspeople making awareness-raising presentations in primary schools, as well as giving children the opportunity to participate in five disability sports challenges.

By doing so, the project hopes to inspire and encourage more disabled and non-disabled children to become more active in sport.

The project will involve at least 150 primary schools throughout Northern Ireland in the build-up to the London 2012 Games, and was granted the prestigious London 2012 Inspire Mark, the badge of the London 2012 Inspire programme which recognises exceptional and innovative projects inspired by the Games.

Angela Hendra MBE, Chairperson Disability Sports NI, said: “The project showcases disability sport in a very positive way, and is therefore a very fitting event for Chris Holmes to visit to mark the milestone of two years to go to the end of the |Paralympic Games.”

The innovative ‘5 Star Disability Sports Challenge’ programme is |being funded by the Department |of Culture, Arts and Leisure, and |supported by the Department of Education.

For more information on the ‘Five-Star Disability Sports Challenge’ project contact Disability Sports NI on 028 9038 7062 or email@dsni.co.uk

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