Sussex student wins national recognition for her dedication to school sports
A student who has been ‘the face’ of the Virtual Sussex School Games competition has been recognised for her dedication as a young sports leader.
Ellie Balchin, 15, has played a key role, starring in the demonstration videos for the Winter Games, which is running across Sussex throughout February.
The School Games National Summit honoured her achievements by presenting her with a certificate as a finalist for the Young Person’s Award.
Ellie was also shortlisted for the Youth Sport Trust’s Girls Active and YST Young Activist awards.
Active Sussex has been leading the way in the Virtual Sussex School Games, last summer and this winter, and Ellie, a young sports leader at The Angmering School in West Sussex, has been involved in both competitions.
Daniel Jenner, PE teacher, said: “Ellie has become a countywide role model and the face of the games, which has inspired thousands of children to stay active during these times.
“Her hardwork has also been recognised nationwide, which is a true reflection as to the amazing young person and sport leader she is. Ellie’s commitment and enthusiasm sets an excellent example to all young people, she really is an inspiration to others.
“She has been recognised as someone who, during the Covid-19 period, has had a significant impact on other young people by engaging and inspiring others to take part in the School Games in their area.
“Ellie was also nominated and recognised as a key influencer and activist in promoting change and the importance of physical activity, physical education and sport for all young people.”
The games are running countywide during lockdown and The Angmering School has been the driving force behind creating all the challenge videos.
The Winter Games is using the same principles as last summer’s Virtual School Games competition, when Ellie starred in all the demonstrations for the activities.
She is helping to provide young people and families with opportunities to stay engaged in physical activity during the pandemic and children across Sussex are able to represent their school and area in competitive events, including a wide range of activities that can be done at home and school.
Mr Jenner said: “Ellie has been the driving force, providing detailed videos and leadership, inspiring young people all over the county to complete each challenge.
“With Ellie’s motivation, enthusiasm, dedication and support, she inspired more than 70,000 entries from more than 300 schools countywide to compete during the Summer Games.
“Her hardwork and efforts haven’t stopped there. In the Winter Games to date, there have been more than 320 schools represented, with nearly 26,000 entries in just two weeks.”
Ellie said the best part for her had been seeing how many children had been involved and knowing she had made an impact on so many young lives.
She added: “I didn’t expect so many young people to be engaged and I have enjoyed making all the videos.”
Simon Liley, head teacher at The Angmering School, is chairman of the local organising committee for the Sussex School Games.
He said: “I am passionate about providing opportunities for young people to participate in sport. I know that sport can improve both physical and mental wellbeing, help to develop positive relationships with peers and provide short and long term goals for young people.
“During the pandemic, there have been fewer opportunities for children to join in with sports collectively, so the Sussex Schools Games organisers have had to find creative approaches to keep children active and engaged.
“Working closely with the Youth Sport Trust, Sport England and Active Sussex, we developed a Virtual School Games in the summer of 2020, allowing children from across East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton and Hove to represent their schools and areas in competitive events.
“These included a wide range of activities which could be done at home and school, with results being uploaded and then league tables published. The next phase of our plans, the Winter Games, is using the same principles. We are releasing a series of challenges for children to attempt during lockdown.
“The aim, as always, is to keep them active, make them feel part of their school and encourage some healthy competition.
“At The Angmering School, we are exceptionally proud of our commitment to sport and fitness in all forms. We believe that every child and adult should be happy and healthy and that sport can play a central role in this.
“One of our exceptional PE team, Mr Jenner has a parallel role working as a Schools Games organiser. Within this role, he has been instrumental in maintaining the engagement of thousands of young people throughout lockdown.
“We are also incredibly proud that Ellie, one of our young sports leaders, has become the role model for thousands of children as she has starred in the demonstration videos for all of the Virtual School Games activities. Ellie’s commitment and enthusiasm set an excellent example to all young people.”
The Virtual Sussex School Games competition was designed as a new way to offer sporting challenges to young people while the school have been largely closed.
The Winter Games was launched on February 1 by Active Sussex, in partnership with the Sussex School Games organiser network, with physical challenges based around the theme of the Winter Olympics.
A new winter sport has been announced each Monday, made up of four challenges. Children are encouraged to train and improve, logging their best scores online before midday on Friday, to contribute to their school’s average score.
Medals will be awarded to the best primary and secondary schools for each sport and an overall leaderboard will be kept for the month.
Sadie Mason, chief executive of Active Sussex, said: “With another national lockdown and the added challenge of the colder winter months, we felt it was more important than ever to provide an engaging programme for children to join in with from home.
“The mental and physical wellbeing of young people is more important than ever during this time, and the overwhelming response we have received from schools and parents has shown how much a programme like this is needed, and the benefits it has on young people.”