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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Lidl deliver boost to 10 schools in Co Antrim with Mental Health Athlete Mentorship Programme

hockey hero Shirley McCay MBE, Ireland badminton athlete Ciaran Chambers and Lidl Castlereagh Store Manager, Jonathan McConnell.

Pictured (L-R) are hockey hero Shirley McCay MBE, Ireland badminton athlete Ciaran Chambers and Lidl Castlereagh Store Manager, Jonathan McConnell.

Northern Ireland’s sporting heroes today revealed the list of 24 secondary schools to successfully secure a place on Lidl Northern Ireland’s award-winning Sport for Good programme for the 2023/2024 academic year.


Ten schools in County Antrim secured a place on this year’s programme, including Ballymena Academy, Our Lady of Lourdes (Ballymoney), Hazelwood Integrated College (Newtownabbey), Slemish College (Ballymena), St Patrick’s Academy (Lisburn), Hunter House College (Finaghy), Crumlin Integrated College, Cambridge House Grammar School (Ballymena), Dunclug College (Ballymena), Thornfield House Special School (Newtownabbey).


More than 1,000 pupils across the region are set to benefit from the programme which will see students participate in a series of dedicated mental health workshops, with each school also receiving £1,000 worth of brand-new sports equipment.


Running throughout the academic year, a specially selected and fully trained team of Northern Ireland’s best-known athletes, representing a wider range of sports, will team up to roll out the school workshops including Olympic hockey heroes Shirley McCay MBE and Eugene Magee and four-time Paralympic athletics champion Michael McKillop MBE.


Also new to this year’s programme is Ireland badminton athlete, Ciaran Chambers.


Commenting on the Sport for Good mentorship workshops, Tyrone’s Olympic hockey star and Ireland most capped former international hockey player, Shirley McCay MBE said:


“I’m hugely proud to be a mentor for Lidl Northern Ireland’s Sport for Good programme for another great year. The Mental Health Athlete Mentorship programme has already made a real impact on thousands of students here in Northern Ireland, equipping them with the knowledge and tools to build resilience, self-esteem and better manage stress.


“Sport in general plays such an important role in empowering young adults to better manage their overall mental health, which is more important than ever. I’m honoured to continue delivering these workshops that bring real benefits to local school pupils and to play my part in inspiring the next generation of sporting legends to future success.”


Nominations for this year’s Sport for Good programme opened in May, with long-standing Sport for Good Ambassadors six-time Paralympic gold medallist swimmer Bethany Firth OBE, European Championship 1500 metre silver medallist Ciara Mageean and World Champion gymnast Rhys McClenaghan launching the campaign for a fourth consecutive year.


Lidl shoppers across Northern Ireland voted for their chosen school, with thousands of entries received and hundreds of schools across all six counties in the running to secure a coveted place on the programme.


Developed in partnership with Youth Sport Trust, the UK’s leading charity dedicated to improving young people’s education and development through sport and play, Lidl Northern Ireland’s Sport for Good Mental Health Athlete Mentorship programme launched in 2021 after research revealed that Northern Ireland has 25 percent higher rates of anxiety and depression in the child and youth population compared to other UK nations.*


More recent research** also shows that almost half of all 16-year-olds in Northern Ireland meet the criteria for mental ill-health.


Ivan Ryan, Regional Managing Director for Lidl Northern Ireland said:


“Our partnership with Youth Sport Trust and the region’s biggest and best sporting stars continues to deliver real impact for pupils, their families and the wider community. Feedback from schools and pupils that have benefitted from the mental health athlete mentorship programme is incredibly positive and it’s heartening to see the transformative impact that this bespoke initiative is having at a local level.


“I’m delighted to see a new squad of secondary schools secure their spot on this year’s programme and I’d like to thank every shopper that took the time to vote for their school.”


Survey feedback from the 2022/23 programme revealed that 81 percent of participants felt that the Sport for Good programme boosted their overall confidence and 100 percent of teachers reported that the programme helped improve their competence and confidence in their role.


Ali Oliver, CEO of Youth Sport Trust said:


“The Youth Sport Trust passionately believes improving children and young people’s wellbeing is a national priority, which is why we’re so delighted to continue our partnership with Lidl Northern Ireland, supporting young people across the region with their physical and mental health. Experience has shown the huge positive impact our athlete mentors can have on the young people they work with, and we are looking forward to bringing this dynamic programme into the selected schools and following the progress of the students over the months ahead.”


For more information please visit

Full list of winning schools participating in Lidl Northern Ireland’s Sport for Good programme:

Full list of winning schools participating in Lidl Northern Ireland’s Sport for Good programme:


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