BY CALUM FRASER
A Greenwich teenager was recognised for her tireless work helping disabled children play sports
Lora Umelue, 17, a student at St Paul’s Academy in Abbey Wood, won the Jack Petchey Outstanding Young Leader award which is sponsored by the Panathlon Foundation.
She has helped deliver the Sport Inspired Community Games Festivals for the past two years, which sees more than 200 children with special educational needs take part in a paralympics style event.
Ms Umele said: “I was delighted to get the opportunity to train as a Panathlon leader. We learned about all the sports, about non-verbal communication, using your body language in the best way to offer encouragement.
“Being a Young Leader at the competitions was really interesting; being given the opportunity to work with disabled children and putting smiles on their faces. It’s a great way of including a wide range of abilities.
“Sport is a language that everyone can speak.”
Ms Umelue attended training courses to enable her to help pupils compete in boccia, new-age kurling, polybat, tri-golf, athletics, dance and many more events.
She used these skills to help deliver Panathlon multisport competitions at St Paul’s for the last two years.
The Panathlon Foundation is a charity that gives about 13,000 children with disabilities and special educational needs the chance to engage in competitive sport that they are often denied elsewhere.
Ms Umelue is also a health and well-being ambassador and sports leader, helping deliver physical activity sessions to her fellow pupils at her school’s weekly health and wellbeing club.
But her work and achievements do not stop there. One year she instigated a Rowathon in aid of mental health charity Mind, another year she organised a Race for Life for Cancer Research UK involving 400 pupils and she also helped set up a school advent charity appeal which raised £3,000.
Ms Umelue’s aim is to study medicine at university and become a nurse in Nigeria, the birthplace of her parents.