More than 30,960 boccia balls have been thrown and 200 seated volleyball games taken place in a bid to get primary school children across the UK thinking about how they can be more inclusive at school.
There are around 770,000 children in the UK living with disabilities - equal to around one in 20 children. National children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust and Allianz Insurance are celebrating a successful partnership which brought together 2,580 young people with and without Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND).
Since June 2017, a national series of 20 mixed-ability, inclusive, multi-sport festivals have been held in the UK to build on the legacy of the Paralympics and ensure all children have access to sport and physical activity.
Ali Oliver, chief executive of Youth Sport Trust, said: “Our aim through these festivals was to collectively strive to challenge attitudes and perceptions of SEND amongst young people and within their local communities. We brought together more than 100 primary schools to do this.
“Through Allianz Dare to Believe we have achieved so much in the past year in helping to ensure that all children and young people have the opportunities to enjoy sport and the wider benefits of an active lifestyle, but we couldn’t have done it without the support of volunteers, our partner Allianz, and the willingness of all the young people involved.”
The Allianz Dare to Believe programme saw 149 volunteers donating 1,043 hours at the festivals.
David Radford, chief marketing officer for Allianz Insurance, said: “We are very proud to support the Youth Sport Trust through the Allianz Dare to Believe festivals. We’ve had some fantastic feedback about the success of the programme and our employee volunteers have really enjoyed the opportunity to bring young people together and make a difference in their local communities.”
The festivals comprised talks from inspirational Paralympic champions, ‘sport and ‘breakout stations’ where they could try Paralympic sports like Boccia, guided athletics, sitting volleyball and Goalball, as well as have time for informal play and to form new friendships.
Seven-year-old Emma, who took part in the Guildford Dare to Believe festival, said the experience had helped her to put herself in the shoes of a young person with SEND.
“I now know what it must feel like to be blind. This has shown me how I can best talk to someone who is blind, and I am now not scared about doing this,” she said.
For more information about the Allianz Dare to Believe festivals visit www.youthsporttrust.org/news/allianz-partners-youth-sport-trust-dare-believe-festivals or follow on Twitter using #DareToBelieve