UK Sport launch athlete programme to harness positive change – UK Sport

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Published 26 September 2022
UK Sport, in partnership with The True Athlete Project, has launched a 6-month programme to help funded athletes use their platform to inspire, facilitate and enable positive change.  
In an athlete consultation conducted in 2020, UK Sport found that 86% of athletes on the world class programme want to use their platform to make a difference to society whilst they are still competing.   
The Powered by Purpose programme is a new offering for athletes who have a keen interest in using the power and platform of sport to inspire positive change, aligning with UK Sport’s ten-year strategy, to create the greatest decade of extraordinary sporting moments; reaching, inspiring and uniting the nation.
This pilot will see athletes take part in a series of tailored, highly personal, live online workshops while being individually supported in their progress, which will lead them to explore the power of sport and become agents for social change.   
The scheme is led by The True Athlete Project, a charity that works with athletes, coaches and leaders to harness the transformative power of sport as a force for good in the world. Over the last six years, they have developed innovative programmes that blend mindfulness, mental skills training and mentoring to unleash the power of sport, engaging participants across the world. 
The Powered by Purpose programme is designed to empower athletes to make a difference, be that locally in their communities or nationally, for a cause that is authentic and genuine to them.
Dame Katherine Grainger, Chair of UK Sport said: “The power and platform of high-performance sport provides a unique opportunity to contribute to lasting, positive change for people, and the environment, and I am thrilled the Powered by Purpose programme will play a small part in this.   
“I am excited that UK Sport is working in partnership with The True Athlete Project to develop athletes from across our community to empower them to use their unique platform to inspire and effect lasting positive change for individuals and society in areas they are passionate about.    
“As an athlete I experienced the wonderful influence and impact sport can have, but the world is changing, and the world of sport is just as affected by these shifts. This pilot programme will enhance our understanding at UK Sport as to how we can better support athletes who want to respond to these challenges.”  
Sam Parfitt, Founder and CEO of The True Athlete Project said, “The True Athlete Project was born from the seed of an idea that training to be the best possible athlete and wanting to make the world a better place could, and indeed should, go hand in hand – a symbiotic relationship. This seed has formed the basis of our programming that stretches across the sports sector at all levels, and across countries.   
“To be chosen by UK Sport to run this inaugural programme – training elite athletes in how to become compassionate and effective social changemakers – feels like a culmination of sorts for our vision.   
“Our seed of an idea has grown strong roots over the past few years, and we are now in the privileged position to help this incredible cohort of passionate, true athletes harness their power to make a positive impact on the world around them.”  
The programme consists of 20 athletes from a diverse range of Olympic and Paralympic sports, backgrounds, and different levels of previous experience in delivering social impact.  
Eilidh McIntyre, who won Olympic Gold medal in Tokyo alongside Hannah Mills in the 470 sailing class said; “As an athlete it can feel the only way to win is to be totally single minded and selfish towards the cause but it’s becoming increasingly obvious that sport is missing the opportunity to unite and empower people behind the important issues of the day and this starts with the athletes. 
“I’m so excited to learn how to use my voice. If I can inspire one child to love sport and protect the ocean. If I can teach one child that their tears might become their greatest strength, that’s success too and will join my list of achievements along with the medals.” 
Tully Kearney, Tokyo Paralympic champion in the 100m freestyle S5 said; “I am delighted to have been accepted onto the UK Sport Powered by Purpose Programme pilot. I am committed to using my platform as a Paralympic athlete to make a difference to society and my local community.
“It will be great to learn more from the workshops on how to be more effective in my current roles, and in the future supporting other causes which are important to me.” 
Beijing 2022 winter Paralympian, Shona Brownlee said; “With everything that’s happened in people’s lives over the last few years, I’m more conscious than ever before of the responsibility we have as athletes to give back and support others in everything we do.”
“I really want to use my career in sport to help inspire people right around the country in whatever way I can, and I feel that Powered by Purpose will be an amazing way to learn about the opportunities I have as an athlete to do just that.


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