Scotland’s athletes are set to inspire an even wider audience with a new online service matching schools with sporting stars launched by the Champions in Scotland programme.
Champions, teachers, pupils and key players from across sport and education packed into Wallace High School in Stirling for the launch and to celebrate a new partnership to grow
and develop the programme, incorporating Commonwealth Games Scotland, Winning Scotland Foundation, the sportscotland Institute of Sport and Winning Students.
Mark Beaumont, record-breaking cyclist, adventurer and broadcaster, and Susan Egelstaff, Commonwealth and Olympian badminton player and Herald columnist were on hand to host the event which included active workshop sessions for pupils, development workshops for adults and a live introduction to the Find a Champion online service.
Teachers across Scotland will be able to log on and ‘order a role model’ thanks to the new online system. The tool matches schools with one of 200 sporting stars signed up to the Champions in Scotland programme with users able to browse a database of athletes and see which role models match with their school. The roster boasts World and Olympic medallists, record breakers and many familiar faces from Team Scotland’s Commonwealth Games teams.
Delivered by independent 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.
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 17,000 young people across 24 local authorities in Scotland using 200 role models.
Jon Doig, Chief Executive of Commonwealth Games Scotland, said: “We are proud to partner with Winning Scotland Foundation along with sportscotland and Winning Students to bring this inspiring programme to more young people across Scotland.
“The Champions represent this country’s success across a wide range of sports, many of them competing at Commonwealth Games for Team Scotland. Our athletes often talk of the strong role models they had at an early age and the drive and belief this gave them in their careers. It’s important that they are now able to fill that role for the younger generation who can learn from, and be inspired by, their struggles and triumphs on the road to achieve personal bests in whatever field they choose.
“The positive influence of the programme since its inception has been well documented and the wider reach provided by the new online system will ensure Champions in Scotland continues to go from strength to strength.”
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 Champions 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.”
“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.”