£3,000 lift for eight seats of learning in NM&D and ABC

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

Friday 12 March 2021 6:57

A NUMBER of Secondary Schools in Newry, Downpatrick, Newcastle, Armagh, Banbridge, Tandragee and Portadown are among the 40 Northern Ireland seats of learning, each of which will benefit to the tune of £3,000 worth of brand new sports equipment, courtesy of Lidl NI.

That amounts to a total investment of £120,000 by the retailer as part of its ‘Sport For Good’ initiative.

That is a programme designed to encourage young people to make the most of the physical and mental benefits of participating in sport. So it is wholly apt that its leading advocates include some of the best known names in sport. Try Irish national hockey team captain, Katie Mullan, national record-holding athlete Ciara Mageean, Commonwealth pommel horse champion Rhys McClenaghan and Paralympic swimmer Bethany Firth MBE, for size.

With that level of support - in harness with Lidl’s monetary generosity - teenagers at the schools in question have an enhanced opportunity plus every incentive to pursue their sporting dreams.

The local recipients are St Mary’s High School (Newry) and Newry High School, Shimna Integrated College (Newcastle), Down High School (Downpatrick), Banbridge High School, St Catherine’s College (Armagh), Tandragee Junior High School and Clounagh Junior High School (Portadown).

As well as being a Commonwealth and European Champion gymnast, Rhys McClenaghan is a ‘Sport for Good’ ambassador. Explaining hi commitment to the venture he said, “With one in four young people in Northern Ireland struggling with their mental health, I am passionate about championing participation in sport as a great way to boost your self-esteem, body confidence and social skills. Not only that, but sport is a great way to build up a life-long support system of friends and mentors.

“Sport played a massive part in my life growing up and it’s really important that young people from all backgrounds are given the same opportunities to access sport, particularly those who are disadvantaged,” he continued. “That’s why I’m proud to be an ambassador for Lidl’s ‘Sport for Good’ initiative, working together to inspire and encourage the next generation of elite athletes, or simply introducing young people to a new hobby that will help develop them physically and mentally and build positive, life-long relationships.

“Thanks to Lidl Northern Ireland and the ‘Sport for Good’ programme, thousands of pupils will have access to the best new sporting equipment, and I look forward to seeing all of the athletes progress in achieving their personal goals.”

And Lidl NI’s Corporate Social Responsibility Manager, Angela Connan, told The Democrat, “We’re delighted to announce this year’s ‘Sport for Good’ winners and provide 40 secondary schools right across the region with a funding boost which is set to benefit thousands of young people.

“We know that this school year has been a difficult one for many pupils adapting to remote learning and that wider curriculum activities, such as physical education, have been significantly impacted.

“The benefits of sports participation on a young person’s mental and physical health are well documented and, as a local retailer invested in its community, Lidl Northern Ireland is keen to ensure young people stay engaged and active in sport through our dedicated Sport for Good programme.

“This is the third year of ‘Sport for Good’, which is a cornerstone of our wider Community Works initiative and demonstrates Lidl Northern Ireland’s on-going commitment to providing local support where it matters most.

“We’re proud to be contributing to the development of our young people right here in Northern Ireland and to help the next generation of home-grown, world-class athletes like Rhys, Bethany, Ciara and Katie, on their way to sporting success.”

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