Sport changes life for trio of local teens

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THREE Newtownabbey teenagers have been working with overseas students through a Sport Changes Life initiative at the University of Ulster.

Eighteen-year-old Hannah McMillan, from Glengormley, Conor McCormack, aged 17 and 16-year-old Chelsea McConnell are participating in a community programme which is run by the charity at the university.

The programme is intended to help raise the aspirations of the young participants and develop life skills whilst working with enthusiastic role models.

Visiting American student athletes Andre Tongo and Matthew Graves were keen to share their skills with the local trio.

Andre and Matthew have become involved in sports outreach work with local community groups and young people suffering from disadvantage, whilst studying for their Master’s degree.

Sport Changes Life’s community programme is designed to re-engage young people aged 14-19 years, who are not in education, employment or training (NEETs).

During the 30-week programme the group, nominated by the PSNI and local community leaders, follow a sport and interactive multimedia curriculum offered by the University of Ulster.

Gareth Maguire, CEO, Sport Changes Life, said: “Interim evaluations show that, young people engaging in our programmes are re-engaging positively with education and employment and disengaging with anti-social behaviour.

“We receive very positive feedback from the young people themselves and the PSNI. Our success lies in our ability to listen and be sensitive to what young people and the community need, in some cases to re-build their lives, which in turn help to re-build their community.”

Due to the success of the Sports Changes life in Newtownabbey, the charity is in talks with community groups and schools with a view to extending the programme in Belfast.