Double gold medallist Michael McKillop and Sport Northern Ireland’s Activ8 Wildcats are looking for new members to join their club.
The Paralympic star and Activ8 Wildcats Twist and Bounce visited St Therese of Lisieux Primary School, Belfast, on a mission to show pupils how much fun they can at their after-school club.
McKillop said: “I’ve been having a brilliant time getting fit and healthy with the Sport Northern Ireland Activ8 Wildcats, Twist and Bounce.
“I would love to see more children signing up to a Wildcats Club where they live.
“It’s a great way to make friends but also to learn all of the skills you really need for taking part in sport.”
Inspired by the London 2012 Games, Activ8 challenges children and young people to do 60 minutes of physical activity every day and to eat a balanced diet.
Activ8 uses eight simple steps to stay active and keep healthy and is now in its fifth year with over 100,000 children engaged in the London 2012 ‘Inspire Mark’ programme.
Activ8 Wildcats aim to increase participation in sport by offering children, aged between three and 11, a unique form of physical activity to help develop their ABCs (agility, balance and co-ordination) in a club which isn’t sport specific, offering children who aren’t part of a sporting group the chance to learn all the skills they need for all sports. However, kids who are already part of a club will also benefit as the Wildcats provide the opportunity for children to take their skills to the next level.
Nick Harkness, Acting Chief Executive of Sport Northern Ireland, said children aspiring to follow in McKillop’s footsteps and be active in any sport first need to learn all of the basic skills required.
“Michael McKillop is a world-class runner and did us all proud when he won two Gold medals at the Paralympics, but before he started competing he learned all of the important skills you need for sport; agility, balance and co-ordination,” he said.
“Wildcat clubs help to develop these skills, in a fun, safe, challenging and progressive way.
“Activ8 Wildcats Clubs are fully inclusive and provide opportunities for boys and girls, regardless of physical ability.
“There are over 50 Activ8 Wildcats Clubs held at venues throughout Northern Ireland, provided by local councils and start in September of each year.
“So as the summer draws to a close and community groups and clubs return, Sport Northern Ireland is encouraging parents and young people to find out about a Wildcat Club in their area,” he added.
“We would also encourage other clubs to get in touch and find out how they can get involved in the Activ8 Wildcat programme.
“Not only do Wildcat Clubs create a starting point and a foundation for young people in sport, they provide links to local quality sport specific clubs to ensure that children continue on their pathway to long term sports participation.
“That’s the important legacy an Olympic and Paralympic programme such as Activ8 can bring to sport in Northern Ireland.”