First Bus is to sponsorship the award-winning Aberdeen Youth Games, a sport and culture project for school children in Aberdeen.

The aberdeed based transport company will provide £8,250 over the next three years to the Aberdeen Youth Games which is delivered in partnership by Robert Gordon University (RGU), Sport Aberdeen and North East Scotland College (NESCol).

First operates a network of high frequency services across Aberdeen and already successfully connects the schools which are participating in the project and their surrounding communities.

After sponsoring last years’ successful programme, the company has decided to provide long-term support.

The sponsorship from First will help to reduce the cost of transportation for schools to and from the project’s Festival of Sport in the city in May, and also continue regional events across the city which will see the project reach more pupils.

The aim of the Aberdeen Youth Games is to establish an innovative, sustainable and integrated citywide sport programme which promotes and increases physical activity, healthy lifestyles and key life skills amongst Aberdeen’s young people.

It does so by enabling university and college students from a range of subject areas to make a positive contribution to the Aberdeen community as part of their studies.

David Phillips, Managing Director of First Aberdeen, and Scotland international footballer Rachel Corsie, who is an Aberdeen Youth Games Ambassador, met some of the pupils who will participate in the project from Hazlehead Primary School during a taster sports session on Thursday, February 25.

Mr Phillips said: “We are thrilled to be on board with the Aberdeen Youth Games again this year. We’ve provided transport arrangements and sponsorship before and are really keen to continue to be involved in the coming years. I’m proud of First getting behind the initiative and we may have some future sports stars from Aberdeen taking part.

“We might be introducing some kids to sports they have never tried before, and in the years to come we could be celebrating their achievements and be able to say that we’ve played a small part in their success.”

Miss Corsie, who is a former Hazlehead Primary School pupil and now plays for Seattle Reign FC in the National Women’s Soccer League, said: “I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work alongside RGU and Sport Aberdeen again for this years’ Aberdeen Youth Games initiative.

“Last year was a great success and the opportunities for this year seem even more diverse and exciting. I feel privileged to attend the launch at Hazlehead Primary School, where I was a pupil. The school recently won the School of the Year award Aberdeen’s Sports Awards so it’s very fitting that the event is being held here.”

Last year, leading Scottish philanthropic charity The Wood Foundation committed £50,000 over the next five years to project.

The Aberdeen Youth Games received Big Lottery Celebrate funding to launch in 2014 and also won the Gold Sporting Contribution Award at the 2015 Game Changer Awards organised by Colleges Scotland and Universities Scotland.

The project also won the ‘Best Innovation in Community Sport’ award at the first Sports Business Innovation Awards run by Stirling based Sporting Chance Initiative.

RGU’s Sport and Exercise Science team and Sport Aberdeen deliver the project and are seeking a range of additional partners and sponsors to build upon its early success.

Launched in November 2013, the Aberdeen Youth Games has engaged thousands of pupils at 42 primary schools and 11 secondary schools across the city who have participated in a number of sporting, health and cultural activities throughout the previous two school years.

The project culminates in May each year with a ‘Festival of Sport’ at Aberdeen Sports Village which see more than 1,000 pupils try a number of different skills based sporting activities. This year the main sports will be basketball, rugby and tennis.

Olympic gold medallist Dr Katherine Grainger CBE and Chairman of The Wood Foundation, Sir Ian Wood CBE, have been ambassadors for the Aberdeen Youth Games since its launch.

They were joined last year by north-east sports stars hockey player Leigh Fawcett, footballer Rachel Corsie and snowboarder Ben Kilner.

Graeme Dale, Senior Development Manager, Active Schools at Sport Aberdeen, said: “The support from first Aberdeen is a fantastic boost to the Aberdeen Youth Games.

“The length of commitment will allow us to look at further developing the project and ensure it has the maximum impact on getting more children and young people in the city active.

“An added bonus is we also get first Aberdeen’s invaluable expertise to organise the transport for the Festival of Sport. With about 40 schools due to attend it is great to have them taking care of all the transport logistics.”

Bryan McCann, lecturer in Sport and Exercise Science at RGU, leads the project. He said: “It is great to be able to launch the 2016 Aberdeen Youth Games programme with the announcement of First Aberdeen’s long term financial support.

“This, alongside the five year funding from The Wood Foundation, demonstrates the success the potential that the Aberdeen Youth Games has to make a positive contribution to the health, wellbeing and physical activity of the Aberdeen community.

“We have exciting plans to grow the programme in the coming years with the support of First Bus, The Wood Foundation, our ambassadors and our partner organisations.”

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