A three-year £200,000 fund for children with disabilities to take part in community sports activities has smashed its target, with 421 children getting involved in the Kingston initiative.
The investment from the Premier League Community Fund saw collaboration between Kingston Council, Fulham Football Club Foundation and Sport Kingston, the borough’s sport council, to create and run the ‘Inclusive Champions’ programme.
The next three years of the programme will focus on schools across the borough, with £35,000 of funding having been secured from Kingston Council, Fulham Football Club Foundation, Sport Kingston and BBC Children in Need.
Cllr Andrea Craig, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Sport and Leisure at Kingston Council, said:
“I’m delighted we’ve surpassed our target of 325 children taking part in the scheme and achieved something so meaningful. Our focus with this initiative was to ensure that, outside of school hours, children with disabilities are able to enjoy healthy lifestyles through sport.
“Our boys football team has done especially well, representing Team Kingston at London Youth Games 2015 and bringing home the gold medal. Well done to all involved and I look forward to seeing what we can achieve in the coming years.”
The programme has also benefitted the dedicated volunteers and coaches, who achieved 117 qualifications over course of the three year initiative.
Jack, aged 11, who is on the Autistic spectrum, found it difficult to make friends and struggled at school. Since taking part in Inclusive Champions, Jack has made close friends and his school teachers have remarked on his increased concentration and improved behaviour.
Jack said: “I have really enjoyed the tennis. I have also made some really good friends, who are now my best friends at school. I feel much more confident and have even started to join other sports activities”.
Steve Day, CEO of Fulham Football Club Foundation, said:
“It’s clear that the Inclusive Champions project has been a great success. We’ve exceeded all of our targets, reaching hundreds of disabled young people and families providing sport and physical activity opportunities that they wouldn’t of had access to previously. We are hugely grateful to all our partners for their support in making the project so impactful and are delighted that we have been able to secure further funding from BBC Children in Need to continue this project over the next three years.”
Adrian Pearman, Chair of Sport Kingston, said:
‘I am pleased the ‘Inclusive Champions’ programme has proved such a great success and has given so many children the opportunity to participate in sport to enhance their lives.
“Sport Kingston is therefore proud to continue to support this worthy initiative giving children a safe and challenging opportunity.’