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Decade of breathing fire into sport

Created on 05/12/2010 @ 10:01
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The primary school programme Dragon Sport is celebrating ten years of helping children in Wales get more active.

For the past decade, Dragon Sport has been blazing a trail in providing fun and exciting sports activities for 7-11 year olds. The lottery funded scheme - delivered by schools and dedicated Dragon Sport Coordinators from Powys County Council - has fired up scores of Welsh youngsters to dive into a range of sports both inside and out of school.

98% of schools in Powys are signed up to Dragon Sport, with 90% of children aged 7-11 participating in Dragon Sport during 2009/10.  Some notable facts from 2009/10 include:

- 3,002 Dragon Sport Schools Club sessions took place;

- 147 young leaders have been trained through Dragon Sport;

- 163 teachers regularly lead Dragon Sport clubs, with 125 adults other than teachers helping lead sessions;

- Football was the most popular Dragon Sport activity, with athletics coming a close second.

Chair of Sport Wales, Professor Laura McAllister, said: "Dragon Sport has increased participation and interest in sport amongst children, aged 7-11, particularly among children who might not otherwise engage in extracurricular sport and amongst girls. It has also been a great stepping stone for producing well rounded athletes, such as Team Wales table tennis players Megan and Angharad Phillips.

"We want Dragon Sport to keep on growing in its ability to empower every child and young person in Wales to be physically confident, with the basic skills from an early age to be able to participate in a variety of sports."

Dragon Sport can inspire children at a young age to get involved in sport, such as Ffion Butler.  The Newtown High School pupil had a successful time at the Disability Sport England National Short Course Championships in Sheffield in November, coming away with a bronze medal in the 50metre breaststroke and a gold medal in the 4x100 metre relay where she swam with Paralympian gold medallists Ellie Simmonds and Stephanie Millward.

Ffion, who now swims five times a week, previously attended Hafren Primary School where she took part in many Dragon Sport activities.

“I like to try all sports although some are more difficult because of my disability,” explains Ffion.

“Swimming helps me relax as it clears my mind when I swim the lengths.  I feel that my fitness has improved overall and this helped me win the 1500metres on our sports day and I ran the Santa Run for Newtown Swimming Club.”

Wendy Langford, Powys County Council’s Active Young People Co-ordinator, said: “Dragon Sport is a fantastic scheme to get all children, not matter what their ability, engaged in sport.

“It introduces children to what fun sport can bring to them and the benefits of taking part can be.  Not only does the scheme benefit children, it can be a great way to get involved in sport through volunteering and leadership.

“I started off as a Dragon Sport volunteer when I was 16, helping out in various festivals and events.  Thanks to these experiences as a volunteer, I’m now the council’s Active Young People Co-ordinator.”

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