Olympic heroes put mental health in the spotlight with launch of Lidl Northern Ireland’s Sport for Good campaign

Lidl Northern Ireland has teamed up with local sporting heroes including six-time Paralympic gold medallist swimmer Bethany Firth, Olympic gymnast Rhys McClenaghan and Olympic runner Ciara Mageean to launch the 2021 Sport for Good campaign, in partnership with children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust.

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Pictured celebrating the launch are (L-R) Head of Sales Operations at Lidl Northern Ireland, Gordon Cruikshanks with Sport for Good Ambassadors, Olympic gymnast, Rhys McClenaghan and Paralympic swimmer, Bethany Firth.

Established in 2019, the Sport for Good scheme aims to encourage and support young people to make the most of the physical and mental benefits of sport participation. Over the last two years, Sport for Good has supported more than 80 sports clubs and schools across Northern Ireland and provided more than £220,000 in funding to encourage more young people into sport.

With 45 per cent of young people in Northern Ireland saying their mental health has worsened since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic*, this year’s Sport for Good campaign is focused on boosting young people’s social skills, self-esteem and body confidence through sports participation and supporting young people across the region with the roll out of a dedicated Mental Health Athlete Mentorship Programme.

Lidl Northern Ireland shoppers can nominate their local secondary school to win a place on the Mental Health Athlete Mentorship Programme by visiting their local Lidl store and making a purchase to receive a qualifying Lidl receipt containing a 10-digit code. Receipt codes must be submitted online along with the secondary school nomination for a chance to be in with winning. Entries can be made via the dedicated Sport for Good online entry form at lidl-ni.co.uk/lidl-community-works. The competition is open now until Sunday 28th November.

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Pictured celebrating the launch are (L-R) Sport for Good Ambassador and Olympic gymnast, Rhys McClenaghan, Head of Sales Operations at Lidl Northern Ireland, Gordon Cruikshanks and Sport for Good Ambassador and Paralympic swimmer, Bethany Firth.

Speaking at the launch of the 2021 Sport for Good campaign, programme ambassador Bethany Firth MBE said:

“Sports participation is one of the best ways to improve physical and mental health and I’m honoured to be a Lidl Northern Ireland Sport for Good Ambassador for a third year running. Since the launch of this initiative I’ve seen how the programme has transformed the lives of many young people and the positive feedback received has been phenomenal.

Having just competed at the Tokyo Olympics, and as a Paralympian, I know only too well how important it is to have a strong, healthy mindset which really helped drive me to winning two gold and two silver medals this year. I also realise how lucky I am to be surrounded by an excellent support system of teachers, coaches, family and friends who spur me on to reach my sporting goals. Not all young people have that same access or have the skills to be able to manage their mental health and that’s why this year’s Sport for Good campaign is more important than ever.

I’m really proud to launch this initiative and partner with Lidl Northern Ireland who are actively reaching into the heart of communities, investing in young people and helping improve their health and wellbeing through sport.”

Representing an investment of over £100,000 this year’s programme gives 25 secondary schools across the region the opportunity to win a spot on Lidl Northern Ireland’s dedicated Mental Health Athlete Mentorship Programme plus £1,000 worth of sports equipment for their school.

Facilitated by a trained and qualified Mental Health Ambassador appointed by Youth Sport Trust, the UK’s leading sports charity supporting young people’s education and development through sport, the programme will take place over two sessions designed to help young people explore the positive effect of sports participation on their mental health, helping to drive the next generation of sporting legends and encourage more young people to reap the benefits of participating in sports.

Gordon Cruickshanks, Head of Sales Operations, for Lidl Northern Ireland said:

“At Lidl Northern Ireland, we’re committed to supporting our local communities through our established Community Works initiative and Sport for Good is our flagship programme to reach and support young people across the region.

The pandemic has undoubtedly had a significant impact on the mental health of our young people and this year we aim to tackle mental health head on. We’re delighted to partner with Youth Sport Trust for the first time to deliver a bespoke Mental Health Athlete Programme, designed specifically for secondary school pupils to provide practical advice and techniques to improve mental health through sport.

We’re thrilled to welcome back three of our sporting heroes, Bethany, Rhys and Ciara, who have all had great success over the past year. They are an inspiration, and we have no doubt that they will motivate more young people into sport and encourage those already engaged in sport to achieve their sporting goals.”

Jenny Rouse, Head of Business Development & Fundraising, Youth Sport Trust said,

“Empowering young people through sport is the lifeblood of our charity and we are delighted to partner with Lidl Northern Ireland on the Sport for Good 2021 programme. Sport gives young people a platform to have their voices heard and a sense of belonging, and it is our mission to harness this power to help them build a brighter future.

The Mental Health Athlete Programme provided by Lidl Northern Ireland will help to build on the already strong foundation of Sport for Good that has benefited so many young people across the region. The benefits of sports can be life-changing and we are excited to see the effects of the programme on the young people of Northern Ireland.”

The Sport for Good 2021 programme is the latest initiative by Lidl Northern Ireland to support communities across Northern Ireland and forms part of the retailer’s longstanding ‘Community Works’ programme. First launched in 2014, the Community Works programme has engaged more than 750 community groups to date and raised more than £420,000 for charity partner NSPCC Northern Ireland.

For more information please visit lidl-ni.co.uk/lidl-community-works


Leanne is the editor in chief of BELFAST.CO.UK.