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20,000 children take part in disability sports scheme

18 January, 2012

More than 20,000 children have completed the ‘5 Star Disability Sports Challenge’, Sports Minister Carál Ní Chuilín announced today.

The Minister joined Olympic gold medallist Jonathan Edwards, local paralympic athletes and the pupils of St Colman’s Primary School in Belfast to unveil the milestone figure.

The 5 Star Disability Sports Challenge showcases disability sport in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. It inspires both disabled and non-disabled children to participate in sport, while positively challenging attitudes about people with disabilities. St Colman’s is the latest school to take part in the scheme, which has been running since 2009, and its pupils take the number of participants to 20,000.

The Minister said: 

“This inspirational programme has excited and enthused children of all abilities and backgrounds in dozens of schools across the North.

“As well as giving children a flavour of Paralympic sports, these young people get to meet elite athletes, hear their stories, ask questions and further their understanding.”

During the event, the children heard from Michael McKillop, who won a gold medal in the 800m event at the 2008 Beijing Paralympic Games. Also present were Aubrey Bingham and Johnny McCarthy from the Northern Ireland Knights Wheelchair Basketball Club. Following the presentations, Disability Sports NI coaches gave participating children the opportunity to try out a circuit of five Paralympic sports.

The Minister added:

“It is encouraging to see how much this scheme has accomplished at a grassroots level. The 5 Star Disability Sports Challenge has broken down barriers, raised awareness and had a positive impact in the countdown to the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“What the pupils of St Colman’s have experienced today will resonate with them in the build up to the Olympics and long into the future.”

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