Fifty young people across the UK will be empowered to become community leaders with support from world class athletes, as part of a brand new transformational programme Community Champions, funded by the National Lottery.

The programme is an opportunity for young people who have already completed the Trust’s flagship Get on Track mentoring programme, to develop their leadership skills further to become agents of social change within their peers, their families and their communities.

Community Champions received £206,555 funding from Sport England, with young people specifically being tasked to lead social action projects which use sport or physical activity to address an issue within their local community.

The community-based personal, social and emotional development programme has started this month and is being led by world-class athletes based in five different areas of the UK.

  • Leeds - Jenny Wallwork, former GB Badminton Player
  • North Yorkshire - James Kirton, former GB Olympic Swimmer
  • Merseyside - Neil Danns, GB Pro Skateboarder
  • Bristol - Dave Hill, GB Paralympian in Swimming and Triathlon 
  • Kent / London - Kate Haywood, former GB Olympic Swimmer

The sessions – run over a 10 -month period – will support young people even further as leaders will help young people to realise the attitudes and behaviours needed to empower others.

Dame Kelly Holmes, Founder and President of Dame Kelly Holmes Trust said: “I’m thrilled that my charity is launching the Community Champions programme which is set to boost social action and make a difference within communities across the UK.

“Our programmes are only ever delivered by Trust-trained athletes who have reached a world class level in their sport. This group are naturally high performing and proven to be exceptional at empowering young people to become leaders for change within their communities.

“We’re really looking forward to working with Sport England once again – thanks to Lottery funding - to see the wide ranging impact we can have through this innovative programme, which represents a significant step in the continued evolution of the Trust.”

James Kirton, former Olympic Swimmer and Dame Kelly Holmes Trust athlete mentor, added: “We believe as a charity that every young person – no matter what their background or current circumstances – has the potential to lead a positive life. I can’t wait to start working with the young people on our Community Champions programme and being able to support them to become leaders for change.

“Having gone through our transformational Get on Track programme already, these young people have proved they’re motivated and confident as well as determined to continue their personal growth. This programme is all about providing an opportunity for these young people to go out and empower others and to advance even further in their own lives in the process.”

Mike Diaper, Director at Sport England, added: “We are pleased to invest Lottery funding in the Community Champions programme. Dame Kelly Holmes Trust is a key partner within the Sport for Development sector. Their vision of using community based sport to engage young people by helping them develop vital life skills aligns with our own focus of supporting and promoting the wider benefits of sport beyond individual health and wellbeing so that it helps energise and sustain local communities by tackling things like social exclusion.”