In the run up to the Rio Olympics, Jessica Ennis-Hill was among elite athletes who gave surprise presentations to winners of the Sky Sports Living for Sports Awards. The annual awards recognise and reward the success of students and teachers who have helped deliver the free Sky Academy initiative, delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, which uses sport to help young people build practical skills and self-confidence.
The awards were presented throughout the summer term with the first award going to Natalie Wilsher who was named the Overall Sky Sports Living for Sport Teacher of the Year when Thierry Henry surprised her with a presentation live on Sky Sports News HQ. The final award presented by Ennis-Hill, who took time out of her grueling Olympic training schedule for the surprise, went to Christopher Badger as Student of the Year for England.
The Aston student was surprised by Jessica whilst taking part in a Sky Sports Living for Sports skills session led by Athlete Mentors, England international footballer Sue Smith, and, Paralympic cyclist Rik Waddon. Students were taking part in a skills game promoting communication, involving half the group wearing blindfolds whilst their partners guided them across the room, when Jessica joined the students, replacing Chris’s partner and surprising him with the Student of the Year Award as he removed his blindfold.
Chris, who has Cerebral Palsy, was selected to take part in Aston Academy’s Sky Sports Living for Sport project, Adventure Challenge, by his teacher Jill Newbolt. Chris has never let his disabilty get in the way and meeting with Athlete Mentor Rik Waddon during the project, who also has Cerebral Palsy, reaffirmed this and inspired Chris to truly believe life can be whatever you make it.
With his new found confidence and drive Chris has since gone on to achieve great things including speaking at large events through to performing a solo guitar piece at the finals of the South Yorkshire School Games in front of more than 1,000 people. He has also started a Level 2 snooker coaching course as he looks to inspire more young people.
Reigning Olympic Heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis-Hill said:
Chris is a fabulous student and embodies what Sky Sports Living for Sport is all about. The leadership skills he has shown since taking part in the Adventure Challenge project is fantastic. His ability to stand-up and speak about his own story in an inspirational manner, is exactly what makes him a worthy winner of the Sky Sports Living for Sport award.
The biggest impact of the Project has actually been the whole journey of courage and confidence I went on. From nervously practicing my speech and my guitar piece at home, to delivering to over a 1,000 people at the County School Game Finals - an amazing feeling of really accomplishing something special.
The winners who also received surprise visits were: Glesni Tegid, Student of the Year Wales, presented by Darren Campbell; Shea Donnelly, Student of the Year Northern Ireland, presented by Graeme McDowell; Abbie McCallum, Student of the Year Scotland, presented by Sir Chris Hoy; Patrick Fu, Student of the Year Republic of Ireland, presented by Katie Taylor; and students from Kirk Hallam Community Academy who received the Overall Project of the Year Award from Jonny Wilkinson.
Teacher of the year awards also went to: Gillian Poole in Northern Ireland; Brendan O’Malley in Republic of Ireland; Chris Forber in Scotland; and Jamie Turley in Wales.
Working with the Youth Sport Trust since 2003, Sky Sports Living for Sport links teachers and their students with a dedicated team of over 135 world-class Athlete Mentors.
Participating schools receive free t shirts and two free visits from one of our Athlete Mentor team who have been selected for their ability to engage with young people through their own stories of struggle and success, including challenges they have overcome such as bullying, dyslexia, exclusion and living with a disability. Throughout the year there are also opportunities for schools and students to enter competitions and awards to continue to inspire and motivate.
Click here if you would like to get involved in the programme or to find out more about the winners.