The National Lottery took one of the athletes it funds, Ballykelly-born Paralympian Sally Brown, to share her story and meet youngsters at a Lottery-funded project in Derry.
Seventeen-year-old Brown, who competed in the T46 100m and 200m events at the Paralympic Games in London this summer, joined members from Youth Action to provide inspiration and take part in one of the training sessions the centre offers.
Supported by the Big Lottery Fund, Youth Action is a voluntary organisation which aims to improve the life chances of youngsters across Northern Ireland. It provides informal educational programmes for 14- to 25-year-olds, targeting disadvantaged communities and vulnerable individuals.
Sally Brown said: “It’s been a wonderful experience to visit Youth Action and I’d be delighted if I inspired some of the people here today.
“National Lottery funding changed my life. It allowed me to train full-time at superb facilities and receive world-class coaching and medical support. Competing in the London 2012 Paralympics was a dream come true. It’s not just sport that benefits from Lottery funding. National Lottery players should be proud that they are helping Youth Action and thousands of other good causes all over Northern Ireland.”
Youth Action has received £496,962 of National Lottery funding to support isolated and vulnerable young people in disadvantaged communities in Waterside, who are not in education and are at risk of anti-social behaviour and criminal activity.
Working in partnership with community organisations and schools and colleges, Youth Action provides young people with a range of services to improve their education and opportunities including youth work programmes, peer mentoring, training and accreditation courses, and volunteering and work placements.
Anne McTaggart, Development Manager at YouthAction, said: “We have enjoyed having Sally Brown join us today. Having such a successful Paralympian visit will certainly inspire the young people who take part in our ‘Positive Solutions’ project. The Big Lottery Fund has invested a great amount in this project which tackles economic activity among disengaged young men and young women. This supports them to build skills and prepare for the world of work which is hugely important in enabling them to take positive action and change their lives for the better.”
Demi Brown, an 18-year-old member of Youth Action who participated in the event, said: “Today’s been amazing, Sally is such an inspiration to everyone that’s here today and everyone in Northern Ireland that watched her in the Paralympics. It’s great to get the opportunity to meet someone that has achieved so much already in their life – I’ll definitely remember this for a long time.”
Brown is one of 1,200 National Lottery funded elite athletes. The funding allows her to compete and train full time to the highest of international standards. The National Lottery invested up to £2.2 billion in London 2012, allowing athletes, venues and volunteers to shine on the world stage.