Olympic and Paralympic heroes and local sporting legends have teamed up with Lidl Northern Ireland to launch this year’s Sport for Good Schools Programme which, in partnership with children’s charity Youth Sport Trust, aims to promote positive mental health amongst secondary school pupils across Northern Ireland through sport.
The Lidl Northern Ireland Sport for Good Schools Programme is a mental health athlete mentorship programme with a dedicated focus on boosting young people’s social skills, self-esteem and body confidence through sports participation. The programme aims to address the needs of some 45% of young people here who said their mental health had deteriorated since the pandemic began.*
More than 5,200 secondary school pupils from across 25 schools located in every county participated in the 2021/22 programme with feedback survey results revealing that 83% of participants felt Lidl Northern Ireland’s programme boosted their overall confidence.
Additional programme benefits included improved resilience and enjoyment of exercise as well as increased confidence to participate in future sport. All teachers participating in the programme also confirmed their commitment to making improvements to their school’s mental health curriculum as a result of the programme.
The Sport for Good Schools Programme is championed by six-time Paralympic gold medallist swimmer Bethany Firth OBE, 2022 Commonwealth Games and European Championship 1,500 metre silver medalist, Ciara Mageean, and Olympic gymnast, Rhys McClenaghan. The programme sees a series of mental health workshops delivered by a squad of specially trained NI sports stars, including Michael McKillop MBE and Shirley McCay MBE, who are appointed as the programme’s athlete mentors by the Youth Sport Trust. The 2022/23 programme was officially launched today at a special event in Belfast.
Speaking at the launch of the 2022-23 programme, Lidl Northern Ireland Sport for Good ambassador, Ciara Mageean said:
“As a middle-distance runner competing at the highest level of international sport, I know how important it is to have a strong mindset and belief in myself to achieve my goals. It’s something I focus and work on every day. I’m proud to be an ambassador for Lidl Northern Ireland’s Sport for Good Schools Programme which is dedicated to supporting young people and improving mental health outcomes, particularly after the challenging times of the last few years.
I’m delighted to see the results of last year’s programme and to know that it really is having an impact on our young people and improving their mental health. Knowing that 80% of the students who were involved in the workshops have seen an improvement in their confidence demonstrates the true power of sport, and I’m proud to have been able to play my part in that.
I’m excited to launch the 2022-23 programme and to share with even more students across Northern Ireland the tools that sport participation can provide in improving overall wellbeing, building resilience, and managing mental health challenges, and to hopefully find the next generation of sporting stars.”
The 2022/23 Lidl Northern Ireland Sport for Good Schools Programme consists of a series of workshops designed to help young people explore the positive effect sport can have on their mental health now and into the future.
Jenny Rouse, Commercial and Fundraising Director at Youth Sport Trust said;
“We’re really thrilled to continue our partnership with Lidl Northern Ireland and launch our Mental Health Athlete Mentorship programme for a second year. The results of our programme survey have been fantastic and it’s so inspiring to see how this has had a positive impact on the lives of so many young people in Northern Ireland.
“Designing and delivering initiatives like these, through our new Inspiring Changemakers, Building Belonging strategy, we are committed to supporting those most in need of the transformative power of sport and play. Young people are growing up in a world where digital technology is having an increasing impact on their lives and more children feel lonely and disconnected. It is vital we recognise how sport and physical activity can help them to feel a sense of belonging and manage their wellbeing.”
Since 2019, the Sport for Good programme has supported more than 120 sports clubs and schools across Northern Ireland and provided more than £320,000 in funding and equipment to encourage more children to connect with sport.
The Sport for Good Schools Programme is part of Lidl Northern Ireland’s longstanding ‘Community Works’ initiative which supports communities across Northern Ireland. First launched in 2014, the Community Works programme has engaged more than 750 community groups to date and raised more than £420,000 for charity partner NSPCC Northern Ireland.
Joe Mooney, Senior Partnerships Manager for Lidl Ireland and Northern Ireland said;
“As part of our established Community Works initiative, the Sport for Good Schools Programme is designed to tackle the mental health challenges faced by our young people head on and we’re delighted to see the positive feedback in the programme evaluation which shows just how transformative the programme has been in its first year.
It is an honour to welcome back our programme ambassadors, Ciara, Bethany and Rhys who are wonderful role models for young people in Northern Ireland both through their sporting success and by sharing their own personal experiences of mental health issues and how they have used sport as an outlet to manage these challenges.
We’re committed to building on the work we have done so far to ensure more school students are motivated to harness the physical and mental health benefits of sport, and look forward to working with our ambassadors and with the Youth Sport Trust as we actively reach into local communities to support young people across the region in a practical and meaningful way.”
Lidl Northern Ireland shoppers can nominate their local secondary school to win a place on the Sport for Good programme, as well as £1,000 worth of brand-new sports equipment, by visiting their local Lidl store and making a purchase to receive a qualifying Lidl receipt containing a 10-digit code. Receipt codes must be submitted online along with the secondary school nomination for a chance to win. Entries can be made via the dedicated Sport for Good online entry form at lidl-ni.co.uk/lidl-community-works. The competition is open now until Sunday, October 16th.
For more information, please visit www.lidl-ni.co.uk/lidl-community-works.