School children from across Sheffield have become the first in the UK to be involved in a unique pop-up Olympic project set to inspire the next generation of young athletes. The PopUpArena, which is a miniature Olympic stadium, arrived in the city on Monday, 18 June for a week-long Great Athletics Experience event at Newfield Secondary School, Norton Lees.
More than 700 youngsters from schools including Bankwood Community Primary, Mundella Primary, Meersbrook Bank Primary and Norton Free School took part in sporting and cultural activities throughout the week, including QuadKids athletics, with each child taking part in running, throwing and jumping events, as well as music and art sessions.
On Thursday, 21 June, the youngsters also had the chance to meet British wheelchair racer and Torch Bearer Hannah Cockroft - special guest at the PopUpArena VIP event where she delivered an inspirational speech to the young athletes about her sporting career. The reigning double world champion, from Halifax, currently holds the World Championship record for the 100m. In 2010 she broke seven world records over eight days.
Funded by England Athletics and the Youth Sport Trust, the PopUpArena project, described as Lego for sport with a 100m circular track with a 40m straight, is being run by county sports partnership, South Yorkshire Sport. The project, supported by almost 60 volunteers, also featured Olympic themed activities run by Zest Community, Activity Sheffield, Sheffield International Venues and Top Club Athletics (Disability Club).
Stuart Rogers, Partnership Development Officer, South Yorkshire Sport, said: “This UK-first has been a huge success here in Sheffield and we are delighted that the local school children have been able to benefit from this unique experience. As the Olympic Games approach, it is a great opportunity to give the city’s young people the chance to take part in sporting activities, promoting a healthy and active lifestyle, but to also help inspire the the next generation on Olympic athletes.”
Chris Jones, CEO England Athletics, added, "2012 is a unique and special year for athletics in this country. The opportunity to capture the imagination of a whole generation of young people has never been as great. Projects such as the PopUpArena will ensure that more young people experience athletics and enjoy the taste of the arena event in front of their parents, peers and teachers. Delivering a meaningful legacy from any sporting event is dependent on the ability for clubs, schools and community partners to pull together in the right direction and to make the most of their resources. This project demonstrates such an approach in abundance and the local partners should be proud of what they have produced."