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Swimming part of new inclusive youth sport festivals

Swim England News

Thousands of young people will take part in a nationwide series of inclusive sport festivals in the run up to the 2020 Paralympic Games. And swimming is proud to be one of the key activities.

Children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust is leading a consortium of organisations commissioned by the Department for Education to increase opportunities for young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) to enjoy Physical Education, school sport and physical activity.

The Inclusion 2020 project will see 50 primary, secondary and special schools across England organise inclusive countywide ‘Learning and Discovery’ sport festivals ahead of summer 2020.

At the events, 3,000 pupils of all abilities will experience a variety of Para sports and get the opportunity to compete. They will be supported by a team of Youth Sport Trust athlete mentors including ParalympicsGB swimmer Kate Grey.

Minister for Children and Families Nadhim Zahawi said: “With excitement already building for Tokyo 2020, we are delighted to be funding this project which is a great opportunity to make sure all pupils can enjoy the benefits of staying active – let’s hope it may even inspire some future Olympic and Paralympic stars.

“We want every child – including those with special educational needs and disabilities – to have the opportunity to find a sport they love, and this funding will build on the £320 million we are providing through the PE and Sport Premium to help primary schools encourage all of their pupils to lead active lives.”

Inclusion 2020 Project

The Youth Sport Trust will support 50 Lead Inclusion Schools – hubs of expertise on inclusive PE and sport – to act as champions in their local areas. As well as staging festivals, they will be responsible for training staff and sharing best practice with other schools to improve the provision of PE, school sport and physical activity for young people with SEND.

With funding from the Department for Education, Inclusion 2020 will aim to reach tens of thousands of pupils, 2,800 schools and train 6,000 teachers and coaches ahead of the 2020 Games. The consortium of organisations led by the Youth Sport Trust includes Activity Alliance, the British Paralympic Association, Nasen (National Association of Special Educational Needs) and Swim England.

Katie Towner, Swim England’s head of learn to swim, said: “Taking part in fun physical activities such as swimming unlocks so many other benefits, particularly young people with additional needs. Not only does it improve wellbeing and increases confidence, it also helps to build relationships and a sense of belonging.

“We have always worked closely with pools to ensure swimming is fully inclusive, but this project is a great way of engaging with schools and supporting them to provide even more opportunities.

“As part of the Inclusion 2020 project, there will be local reviews of swimming provision for young people with SEND. This will provide us with a greater understanding of local concerns and work with schools and local deliverers to make sure all young people are able to learn to swim and develop water confidence.”

Training and support

As well as the sport festivals, the Inclusion 2020 project will train teachers to adapt curriculum PE sessions to place a greater focus on using the subject to teach life skills. Pupils will also be supported to become young ambassadors who advocate for inclusion within their schools and support others to achieve their daily 30 active minutes of physical activity during the school day

Youth Sport Trust Chief Executive, Ali Oliver, said: “Schools have come a long way in improving the provision of sport and play for young disabled people, but we know there is still more we can do.

“Ahead of Tokyo 2020, we want to build excitement and inspire children and young people. Inclusion 2020 offers a fantastic opportunity to work with schools, teachers and parents to ensure that having special educational needs or a disability is no barrier when it comes to benefiting from high-quality PE, sport and physical activity.”