Ben Slade has been named the south-east’s Sportivate participant of the year in recognition of his contribution and outstanding commitment to sport.
Sportivate is an Olympic and Paralympic legacy programme and the 22-year-old attended all six weeks of the Out There! Sportivate 2013 Club, based in Chichester and run by learning disability and autism charity Outreach 3 Way.
Ben, who has learning disabilities, now regularly takes part in the programme. He signed up after losing much of his confidence and self-esteem after experiencing tough personal problems.
After seeing an advertisement for the Out There! sessions, Ben began to attend and enjoy the opportunity to try new sports – this reignited his passion for sport, including cricket.
Since the Sportivate sessions ended, Ben has been a regular at Out There’s daytime and evening clubs. The clubs have given him the opportunity to play cricket in a group setting and he was recently successful at trials for the Sussex Disability Cricket squad.
Sportivate aims to give young people aged 11 to 25, who have not previously played sport, the opportunity to discover a sport of their choice. Once the Sportivate sessions have been completed, the young people are then helped to find a club or venue where they can continue to take part.
Ben said: “I was surprised to hear I’d won the south east participant of the year award. I really enjoyed the Sportivate sessions because I got to try sports I hadn’t played before.
“They inspired me and gave me the confidence to try out for the county cricket team. Meeting new friends with Sussex Disability Cricket squad has been really good, and my ambition for next year is to score more runs for the team.”
Sid Fletcher, Sportivate project officer at Active Sussex, said: “We’re so pleased Ben has been recognised for this award and can showcase the value that Sportivate brings to a young person’s life here in Sussex.
“Sportivate was the catalyst for Ben’s lifestyle turnaround - through attending the weekly sessions, he has learned new skills, met new people and developed his confidence. We recognise the hard work Out There! West Sussex do to organise these clubs and we look forward to supporting them again on future Sportivate projects.”
Outreach 3 Way is part of national not-for-profit support provider Dimensions, which supports people with learning disabilities. Mark Pearce, regional MD for Dimensions in the south east, said: “Sports participation is so very important for people with learning disabilities and autism.
“Taking part in sports helps people develop their independence and confidence – also enabling them to play an active part in their community.”
Ben is one of more than 420,000 young people nationally who have attended Sportivate sessions – and more than 350,000 have completed their coaching sessions.
Sportivate is being delivered by the network of 45 county sports partnerships, working with local clubs and providers. It is part of a £56m Lottery funded Olympic legacy programme and will benefit hundreds of thousands of young people until 2017.