Sport students at QE are making their mark both internationally and in the Darlington community. A group of talented teenagers studying Sport and Leisure at QE returned to college yesterday (Tuesday 2nd May) having competed in the Cheerleading World Championships, in Orlando, Florida, last week. Closer to home, other members of the popular course have been helping elderly residents at a Darlington care home keep fit with a weekly dose of aerobics as  part of the wide-ranging community work carried out by QE students during their Sport and Leisure studies.

Sport and Leisure course members Lucy Archer, Charlotte Curnin, Chloe Sharp and Jess Hamilton, together with fellow student Lily Archer and six other teammates from the Lazer Cheer Academy, in Darlington and Catterick Garrison, joined 11,000 cheerleaders from 18 countries at the prestigious World Championships. ‘It was an amazing experience,’ said Lily, from Aiskew, North Yorkshire, who together with sister Lucy has been cheerleading for 11 years. ‘It was very intense, but we got to train at some of the best gyms; show off our skills during a programme of cheerleading activities; meet some of our favourite cheerleaders; and be part of something that was truly memorable.’

Meanwhile, in Darlington, fellow students studying Sport and Leisure are helping to organise and run specially adapted seated aerobics sessions for residents – some in their 90s – at Abbeyfield Darlington, as part of their coursework in the community. Many of the 200 teenagers on the two-year course also deliver sport sessions to primary-age children through the Darlington School Sport Partnership (SSP) and work with secondary schools as part of the QE Sports Leadership programme during their studies. Course leader Nancy Wall said: ‘We want our students to learn life skills and make a difference in the local community while working towards their qualifications, and I’m always really impressed with how well they manage to deliver a vast range of sport activities to people across Darlington. From teaching tennis to primary school children and badminton to secondary-age students, to running aerobics classes for the elderly, they adapt brilliantly to different briefs and always bring a sense of fun and enjoyment to the sessions.’

Second year student Hannah Moloney, 18, from Darlington, is taking Sport and Leisure – a vocational course equivalent to two A Levels – along with A Level Psychology, with plans to go to university and become a primary school teacher. She helps deliver the aerobics sessions at Abbeyfield. ‘We plan the exercises around their needs, making sure the sessions don’t focus on just one area of the body and, instead, incorporate a range of movements that help participants to stretch and move different parts of their bodies,’ she said. ‘It’s been really rewarding, listening to their needs and helping them to move, while also enjoying their company and conversation.’ Care home manager Cathy Dalton praised the initiative and said: ‘It’s always great when young and old get together – they enjoy each other’s company, and the sessions give our residents such a boost.’

QE students also help organise and run sport sessions for hundreds of primary school children through Darlington SSP’s School Games Programme, with college sport leaders volunteering their time at futsal, tennis, dodgeball and swimming events. Sport and Leisure student Tom I’Anson, 18, from Darlington, chose the course to support his role as a cricket coach. ‘I wanted to further my knowledge of sport and gain the skills and understanding necessary to give those I coach the best experience possible,’ he said. ‘I’ve helped plan and host a primary school futsal tournament and seen first-hand how important it is to encourage younger children to have a positive attitude to sport and, importantly, have fun.’