Special Olympics Great Britain, a charity that helps people with learning disabilities to take part in sports coaching and competition, has received a £2 million funding boost from the government.
The funding will go towards supporting and improving the following areas of Special Olympics GB’s work:
• Sending 115 Special Olympics GB athletes to Los Angeles to represent the country at the World Summer Games this summer. The event, which will run from July 25 until August 2, will be the largest sports and humanitarian event anywhere in the world in 2015. It will also be the single biggest event in Los Angeles since the 1984 Olympic Games
• To support Special Olympics GB’s National Summer Games in Sheffield in 2017. Special Olympics GB expects the Sheffield games to be the largest ever – with more than 2,000 athletes expected to take part in front of 10,000 family, friends and supporters
• Enabling the charity to significantly strengthen its infrastructure and help create new inclusive clubs, develop competition pathways and launch an innovative new Unified Schools project, which will target 25,000 new young participants over the next 3 years and provide a clear pathway for young people with learning disabilities to pursue sporting opportunities after they leave school, ensuring they remain physically active in the future.
Special Olympics GB currently has 150 local clubs that serve 8,000 athletes with learning disabilities with the help of 4,000 volunteers across England, Scotland and Wales.
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said: “Over a million people in the UK have an intellectual disability, and sport is a key component in helping to tackle stigma, improve health and broaden their horizons with new opportunities.
“This funding is yet another example of this government’s work to build a fairer society and provide opportunity for everyone. After successfully staging the Tour De France, Sheffield will build on that legacy by hosting the Special Olympics National Summer Games, and will cement our city's proud reputation as a centre of sporting excellence, boosting tourism and bringing thousands of visitors to the area.”
Culture Secretary, Sajid Javid, added: “Britain has a great tradition of supporting disability sport, delivering the most successful Paralympics ever at London 2012. I’m committed to ensuring that more people than ever enjoy the benefits of sport. This funding will ensure the Special Olympics continues to go from strength to strength both in Los Angeles and Sheffield.”
Karen Wallin, CEO of Special Olympics GB, said: “I want to sincerely thank the Deputy Prime Minister and Culture Secretary for their recognition of, and investment in our life-changing sports programme. Special Olympics GB has a vision to ensure that it becomes the recognised leader in the provision of sport to all people with intellectual disabilities and allowing them to achieve their full potential in life through meaningful inclusion. We are committed to driving positive actions for young disabled people in sport within both education and community settings and we have set ourselves an ambitious goal to ensure that our infrastructure and programmes have the ability to reach every child and young person with intellectual disabilities in Great Britain by 2018. The investment received… from government will ensure that we achieve this goal and more.”