Pupils at a west London secondary school could hardly believe their luck when they got the chance to meet Paralympic gold medallist Ellie Simmonds last week.
The champion swimmer, who won two gold medals, a silver and a bronze at the London 2012 Paralympic Games, was visiting Chiswick School as part of Sainsbury’s new Active Kids for All scheme.
The company launched its Active Kids initiative in 2005. It has now developed the Active Kids for All programme and will be investing £1 million to help ensure the inclusion of disabled children in PE and sport within mainstream schools throughout the UK.
The cash will fund a series of teacher training courses, enabling PE teachers to develop the skills and confidence to help more than 500,000 disabled children to take part in school PE lessons.
The Chiswick School youngsters, who were joined by pupils from several other schools, listened intently as Ellie showed them her gold medals and talked about her experiences at the Paralympic Games. The 17-year-old combines her swimming training with studying for A levels at Olchfa Comprehensive School in Swansea.
Ellie said: “I know how important it is to ensure that all children get the opportunity to get involved in sport, whatever their situation.
“Their inclusion at school is the first step on what can be an exciting journey for young people and could lead to a gold medal.”
Other guests at the event included Chris Holmes, London 2012’s Paralympic director, Tim Hollingsworth, chief executive of the British Paralympic Association, and Sainsbury’s CEO Justin King.
Afterwards the guests joined the pupils for an inclusive PE lesson, showcasing some of the activities that will be replicated by schools as part of the Active Kids for All programme.
Mr King said: “We are aware that 80 per cent of all disabled children currently attend mainstream schools and that many may not be included in physical education classes.
He added: “While teaching and support staff undoubtedly have the skills, knowledge and competencies to deliver sport to disabled children and young people, not all have the confidence to fully include disabled children within their PE lessons.” CAPTION: Star-struck: Ellie Simmonds, who won four medals at the London Paralympic Games, meets students from Chiswick School