The Banqueting Hall in Whitehall will be playing host to a special gathering of sport, TV and media stars on October 18. They will all be there to publicise their backing for a unique charity initiative aimed at giving every child in the country an equal chance of enjoying great sport.
It’s the third year running that the Activate Sport Foundation has hosted the fund-raising the Co-operative ‘Be Inspired’ Dinner, and it has already helped a large number of less privileged children gain access to sporting opportunities.
"The Activate Sport Foundation represents a core belief that all young people, regardless of ability or social background, should have access to sporting opportunities," says the Foundation’s mission statement.
Its patrons include Andrew Flintoff, Annabel Croft, Jon Wilkin, Denise Lewis, Rugby legend Shane Williams and ITV news anchorman Mark Austin.
Many sports stars of yesterday and today not only support the Foundation’s aims, they are also actively involved.
In 2010, guests at the inaugural dinner included, among others, Michael Vaughan, Denise Lewis, Virginia Wade, Ben Ainslie, Annabel Croft, Ugo Monye, Marcus Trescothick and Danielle Lloyd.
Last year James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Barry McGuigan were just some of those who had added their support.
Now, for 2012, London Olympic Long Jump Gold medallist Greg Rutherford will be joined by Olympic silver medallist Iwan Thomas, the British and Commonwealth 400m record holder, Strictly Come Dancing’s Brendan Cole, cricketers James Anderson, Matt Prior and Chris Tremlett, footballer Darren Eadie and, among others, Rugby stars Alex Goode, Matt Perry, Hugo Southwell and David Flatman.
"Today's society is dealing with some very real issues over child obesity and poor social behaviour amongst our youth,” says Activate Sport Foundation co-founder and former Derbyshire cricket captain Luke Sutton, “and this is in the face of some tough public spending cuts. The Foundation is a vehicle that tackles these issues head on.
"The Activate Sport Foundation is a charity set up to provide unique sporting opportunities to children with less privileged backgrounds in the UK. These opportunities will provide children with immediate and long-term benefits for them, within sport and their lives in the local community."
Just one example of the inspired work that the Foundation has been able to carry out as a result of the backing from The Co-operative, its sponsors, and successful fund raising is the partnership with Primrose Hill Cricket Club.
Together they provided cricket coaching in ten schools within Inner City London during the 2012 summer term. The coaches taught a group of 25 children under the age of 12 years old, each week over a four-week period at all of the schools. This coaching culminated in free paces for the children at a cricket Academy in Regent’s Park during May/June half term this year.
It’s initiatives like this that are helping to meet the Government’s challenge of encouraging a fit and healthy lifestyle through sport in schools following the London 2012 Olympics.
"Sport has the unique ability to give young people a positive focus in life regardless of any other difficulties they face. Opening up a sporting pathway for a young person may or may not lead them to becoming an elite athlete; but it will certainly play a very positive role in their life,” says Luke.
For more information on this event and the The Co-operative Active Culture Campaign – a 6 week programme bringing free sport into schools across the country, visit the website at http://www.activatesport.co.uk/foundation/
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