Teachers can ‘order an athlete’ online to help inspire pupils

Kieron Achara, professional Team GB basketball player, talks to children at the event launch
Kieron Achara, professional Team GB basketball player, talks to children at the event launch
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TEACHERS across Scotland will be able to log on and ‘order a role model’ thanks to a new online system designed to connect schools with inspirational athletes.

The ‘Find a Champion’ service matches schools with sporting stars signed up to the Champions in Scotland programme.

Morag Arnot, Winning Scotland Foundation Executive Director

Morag Arnot, Winning Scotland Foundation Executive Director

Mark Beaumont, record-breaking cyclist, adventurer and broadcaster, and Susan Egelstaff, Commonwealth and Olympian badminton player played host at an event to launch the new service today.

Delivered by charity Winning Scotland Foundation, the Champions in Scotland programme uses successful sports men and women from across Scotland as role models in classrooms.

It is aimed at children from 10 – 15 years old who are typically at a transition period in life.

Athletes share inspirational stories and experiences with pupils as well as delivering interactive workshops that focus on hard work, success through sustained effort, learning from failure and mistakes, and the importance of setting goals. Athletes typically visit the school three times to deliver the programme.

Schools keen to get involved can now access the new online portal to ‘Find a Champion’.

Users will be able to browse a database of athletes and see which role models match with their school. Once they find a champion who fits their requirements they will be able to liaise with the athlete directly to arrange a session.

The programme is the evolution of the Champions in Schools initiative originally launched by Winning Scotland Foundation in 2008, which has been delivered to over 17000 young people across 24 local authorities in Scotland using 200 role models.

The event also marks the formation of a new partnership to grow and develop the programme, incorporating Winning Scotland Foundation, Commonwealth Games Scotland, the sportscotland Institute of Sport and Winning Students.

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Morag Arnot, Winning Scotland Foundation Executive Director, is confident that Champions in Scotland will build on the programme’s successes to date and make it accessible to a wider audience.

She said: “We are committed to creating a culture where all young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Positive role models can be incredibly influential, especially in shaping attitudes to learning and development. From our research we know that the vast majority of pupils who have attended these sessions feel more able to overcome challenges and a year after taking part they had not forgotten the key messages about never giving up and working hard.

“I am delighted that our new booking service will expand the reach of Champions in Scotland. It will also make the programme more sustainable meaning that we can eventually extend it to community groups such as youth clubs.”

Mark Beaumont said: “Having been involved with Winning Scotland Foundation since 2008, and seeing first-hand the positive impact it has on young people, I am very proud to be supporting this new phase that will open Champions in Scotland to all young people across the country.

“I have loved sharing my record breaking exploits with hundreds of children, and more than that having the time to make return visits and discuss topics of healthy living, training and so much more. Some of the children even came out and joined me for a stage when I ran across Scotland! They had never done anything like that before.

“I have also seen how the programme has helped young athletes become more confident and mature communicators. Now that I am a father I feel even more strongly about the priceless value of the Champion in Scotland programme”

Jamie Hepburn, MSP and Minister for Sport, Health Improvement and Mental Health says: “I’m delighted that Scottish Government is supporting the Champions in Scotland role model programme. It’s important that young people in Scotland have great role models to look up to and, more importantly, learn from.”

He continues: “The sporting champions involved in Champions in Scotland are a group of people who have achieved great success through working hard and overcoming setbacks - that’s an example we want to set for all young people in Scotland.

“The strong partnership forged by Commonwealth Games Scotland, the sportscotland Institute of Sport, Winning Students and Winning Scotland Foundation will ensure that the programme continues to flourish - and we are confident that as a result more and more young people can benefit from working with great role models.”

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