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Academics step onto the Podium to receive Gold award

04 May 2012

Canterbury Christ Church University has been awarded two prestigious accolades at the Podium Awards, an inaugural celebration recognising the very best of London 2012 projects across further and higher education.

The University received a Gold award for research work that has directly influenced the re-inclusion of athletes with learning disabilities into the Paralympic Games.

A Bronze award was presented to the University for its Olympic physical activity, sport and health (OPASH) legacy research, funded by the Department of Health, Sport England and the Economic and Social Research Council for London 2012.

Canterbury Christ Church University was the only institution in the UK to have two projects shortlisted in the Exceptional Research Contribution, which is sponsored by Research Councils UK. Both pieces of research beat off stiff competition from over 230 nominated projects.

The Gold award was presented to Christ Church Professor of Clinical Psychology, Jan Burns, whose research was part of an extensive review of the classification of athletes with learning disabilities and their re-inclusion into the Paralympic Games.

Professor Jan Burns (Centre) with Paul Deighton, CEO LOCOG at the Podium Awards 2012
Professor Jan Burns (Centre) with Paul Deighton, CEO LOCOG at the Podium Awards 2012

Professor Burns, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that this research work has been recognised by Podium. It is the culmination of a lot of hard work by researchers based across the globe, coming together to work collaboratively for the inclusion of athletes with intellectual disabilities back into the Paralympics. We hope that now this has been achieved that it is just the beginning of a developing area of research to support, train and select elite athletes with intellectual disabilities.”

The Bronze award, presented to Professor Mike Weed, Director of SPEAR, the University’s Centre for Sport, Physical Education and Activity Research, was recognised for its research on the development of physical activity and sport participation legacies from London 2012.

The Podium Awards follow both pieces of research being recognised in two national reports launched at the start of the week (Monday 30 April 2012), as part of Universities Week 2012.

The black tie ceremony, held in Forman's Fish Island, overlooking the Olympic stadium, was a one-off event to celebrate UK colleges and universities contribution to the Olympic and Paralympic Games and their legacy. The projects recognised ranged from education, research and sport to culture, volunteering and international collaboration.

Paul Deighton, CEO of LOCOG said: “Colleges and universities have played an integral role in supporting London 2012. I congratulate all of the Podium Awards winning projects on their exceptional work. The 230 projects nominated all serve as a tremendous example of how the power of the Games is being used to inspire people to make a real and lasting difference.”

By winning the award for Exceptional Research Contribution, grant funding has been given to the research group to enable activity to continue in legacy after the London 2012 Games have ended.

Canterbury Christ Church University’s contribution to the London 2012 Olympic Games does not stop there. Professor Mike Weed also led the University's SPEAR team that completed a research project on behalf of Podium, the Higher Education and Further Education unit for the Games, focusing on the increasing engagement of Further and Higher Education with London 2012.

Professor Weed, said: “This is the second year we have undertaken this research for Podium, and we are seeing more FE and HE organisations involved in more Games-related activity – the plans that organisations told us they had last year have been translated into specific projects this year.

“While opportunities relating to sport, and disability sport, were most important to organisations, the involvement of the FE and HE sectors with the Games goes way beyond sport – for example, organisations highlighted the contribution London 2012 can make to strategic priorities for international partnerships, local collaborations and even a net positive impact on their financial position.”

Professor Weed’s research highlighted that two thirds of Universities and Further Education Colleges expect to secure tangible legacies from the Games, and over 90% of the FE and HE sector are or plan to be involved in Games related activity.

This research surveyed 476 Further and Higher Education stakeholders across the UK, and is the biggest ever survey of its kind.

To view the full report by the University's Centre for Sport, Physical Education and Activity Research (SPEAR), click here.

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Notes to Editor

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With nearly 20,000 students, and five campuses across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

•We are the third highest university in England for student employability, with 94.3% of our recent UK graduates in employment or further study six months after graduating*.

•Christ Church is the number one choice for local people looking to study at university in Kent (2010 UCAS).

•We are the South East’s largest provider of courses for public service careers (outside of London).

•2012 is the University’s Golden Jubilee, reflecting on 50 years of higher education and innovation.

*2009/10 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey

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