A campaign to create an International Centre for Inclusive Sport, Physical Activity and Health will be launched at the House of Lords this month.
Led by the University of Worcester, the campaign aims to create unique facilities and opportunities for those with disabilities, women, children, senior citizens and anyone who is socially disadvantaged, to engage with sport.
Figures released by Sport England today, show that weekly participation in sport across much of the UK has dropped since the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Although in the West Midlands, where the University of Worcester has played an active role in engaging all members of the community in sport and exercise, through initiatives such as its Senior Games, figures have risen.
The launch of the International Centre for Inclusive Sport, Physical Activity and Health builds on the successful work of the University, which includes the development of the UK's first indoor facility specifically designed to meet the needs of the wheelchair athlete.
The University of Worcester Arena was opened by Sir Philip Craven MBE, President of the International Paralympic Committee, in 2014 and the following year won The Guardian's "Buildings That Inspire" award. It was also featured recently in a Parliamentary Debate during which the Minister for Disabled People described the Arena as "Platinum Standard".
The launch of the International Centre for Inclusive Sport, Physical Activity and Health will take place at the House of Lords, on Monday, June 27th from 6.30pm to 8.30pm, in the presence of HRH the Duke of Gloucester, Chancellor of the University.
The programme for the evening will include details of the Centre, which include plans to develop an Inclusive Cricket Centre, and some short conversations with leading proponents of inclusive sport, including Sophie Carrigill, co-captain of the Great Britain Women's Wheelchair Basketball team.
The Inclusive Cricket Centre has already attracted support from the former Governor of the Bank of England, Lord Mervyn King, who has played a central role in lifting participation in cricket through the successful "Chance to Shine" campaign.
"This new facility will symbolise the amazing work being done by Worcestershire County Cricket Club and the University of Worcester to make cricket truly inclusive," he said.
This will be the UK's first indoor cricket centre designed to meet the needs of visually, mentally and physically impaired cricketers as well as young people, including in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds, together with community, club and elite cricketers, male and female.
The wider International Centre will also include exciting new outdoor facilities at a nearby 50-acre site, which will provide opportunities to develop inclusive water sports on the existing lake and create a wheelchair-accessible athletics track.
The University of Worcester has established a solid reputation as a centre of excellence for disability sport in this country. Worcester is home to the first dedicated degree programme in Disability Sport Coaching and the University was recently called on to help the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Committee to develop a legacy for its games.