SOCCER STARS SUPPORT SPECIAL NEEDS SCHOOL ON CYCLE FROM BEIJING TO LONDON


Soccer stars from Premiership club Portsmouth FC have leant their weight to an initiative by the city’s Mary Rose Special School to create a sponsored cycling initiative to cover the distance from Beijing to London, with the aim of raising funds for the school to help provide greater physical opportunities for children with special needs.


[UKPRwire, Fri Mar 20 2009] Soccer stars from Premiership club Portsmouth FC have leant their weight to an initiative by the city’s Mary Rose Special School to create a sponsored cycling initiative to cover the distance from Beijing to London, with the aim of raising funds for the school to help provide greater physical opportunities for children with special needs.
Players Glen Johnson, John Utaka and Hayden Mullins helped launch the initiative, Beijing Bikes, which provides opportunities for children with special educational needs and physical disabilities to experience physical activities that may previously have been inaccessible to them. Through this initiative, it hopes to open up routes into the wider disability sports community and to unlock the talent of potentially gifted children.
The project is being led by The Mary Rose Trust, a tri-partnership between The Mary Rose Museum, Portsmouth Football Club and Mary Rose Special School. Beijing Bikes is seeking to raise funds for equipment that is needed to help meet the aims of the initiative through a sponsored static and non-static cycle ride.
The initiative kicked off with an all day event at the school, where people across the partnership including pupils, parents, teachers, museum and football club staff, are cycling together to collectively cover the 5070 mile from Beijing and London between now and the start of the London Olympics in 2012.
With the help of youth volunteers from the football club’s Respect programme, the school organised a number of different experiences for its pupils with a number of stations designed to offer something for pupils of all ages and all abilities, including hand cycling, a sensory cycling and a wheelchair slalom for powerchairs. A number of specialist equipment providers also generously loaned the school equipment for the initiative including Trixter, who ran a special session on their X-Bikes where pupils were led through a story as they rode, responding to the various elements of the story and Gymkids, whose Elite system allowed pupils of varying abilities to race against one another on screen at the same time, as the bikes were fitted with a range of different supports.

Alison Beane, Head Teacher Mary Rose School comments: “We’re delighted to be able to undertake this initiative for our pupils. Not only does it help to inspire them, but it also gives us the opportunity to show them what’s possible and to help open doors, regardless of ability. At Mary Rose School we have a ‘we can and we do’ approach and Beijing Bikes is a further example of how we are turning aspirations into realities.”

Lucius Peart, Head of Operations at Portsmouth FC goes on to say, “Beijing Bikes is a fantastic initiative and not just because of the outcomes it will create for the children of Mary Rose School, it’s also another example of organisations across the city of Portsmouth, working collectively towards creating better opportunities for others within the community.”

John Lippiett, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust adds, “Our tri partnership is going from strength to strength, and this initiative can do great things for the wonderful children of Mary Rose School.”
The trust is planning to grow the tri-partnership over the coming 4 years in the run-up to the Olympics to show how a museum, Premier League football club and a special school can combine to do huge and exciting things together.
Ends

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