Sporting stars turn out for student-led Paralympic festival
The event, which was held in a bid to celebrate diversity and promote inclusivity in sports, was attended by 140 children with special educational needs and physical disabilities from specialist inclusive learning centres (SILCs) across Yorkshire.
The festival, which took place on Tuesday 8 May at the University's Headingley campus, was organised by Leeds Metropolitan Sport and Recreation Development undergraduates - Lucy Barlow, Will Cook, Sarah Potter, Rachel Booth and Anthea Cottrell, as part of their second year assessment.
As well as the 60 volunteers supporting the day, the children were treated to a visit from world and European heptathlon gold medallist and Olympic hopeful Jessica Ennis.
Leeds Rhinos stars Lee Smith and Luke Ambler were on hand to dish out medals and certificates to the children, while club mascot Ronnie the Rhino gave out the hugs.
Lucy Barlow, aged 19, said she and her fellow students had been planning the Paralympic style festival since January and the day had been a great success.
"Whilst the festival was for our personal and professional development in terms of our degree - since taking on this project, the children have been the only focus throughout," she commented. "Having met them in their Learning Centres and witnessing first hand their positive outlook and courageous attitude, the event was planned to celebrate the children's achievements."
"We organised eight different activities including football, curling and boccia," she added. "The children were put into eight teams representing eight different countries. Every single one of the pupils, who were aged from 8-18, got involved in the sports and they all really enjoyed themselves. The response has been so positive that SILCs have asked if the event could become a regular thing."
The festival was funded by Sainsbury's and Calor, while Leeds Rugby Foundation, Fitness First and Yamsen also sponsored and supported it.