Midlothian pupils are playing a lead role at conferences aimed at giving youngsters the best possible sporting experience in communities across the country.
The conferences, organised by sportscotland – the national agency for sport – will help influence the national Young Ambassador programme, which is hoping to develop tomorrow’s generation of leaders in sport.
Megan Wilkinson, who attends Penicuik High School, was at the conference at Murrayfield last Friday. She said: “Having been part of the young ambassador programme for a few years now, and being involved in the conference team for a further two years, I love the opportunities it has provided.
“The conferences are some of the best days in the year when we get to inspire other young people who have the same sporting interests as us and show them what they can achieve.
“I really enjoy the social aspect of it and meeting so many new people.”
Megan and the other young ambassadors were joined by Team GB and Team Scotland basketball star Kieron Achara who spoke about the important role of mentors to the development of young people involved in sport.
Achara said: “My mum Marion has been at the heart of it all for me and she has always found a way to support me.
“I was cut from the GB team a year before the London 2012 Olympic Games. I could have walked away but my mum told me I had worked too hard to get to where I was.
“She told me I had to speak to my coach to make sure I could become an Olympian.
“That’s what I did and the rest is history.
“Mentors don’t dictate what you should do. You can ask for advice but a good mentor will provide guidance. They will guide you on the right path. Don’t be scared to ask for help; that’s not a sign of weakness. You have great support systems around you and you should always use those systems starting with your mentor.”
Since the programme’s launch, 3500 Young Ambassadors (two from each secondary school in Scotland) have inspired others to get involved in sport in their schools, clubs and communities.
The National Lottery funded programme is a key element of sportscotland’s contribution to developing young people as leaders in sport.
The programme allows the youngsters to take part in workshops with a team of sport professionals, providing pupils with support and advice to help them become role models and sports leaders within their schools and communities.
Stewart Harris, chief executive at sportscotland, said: “Sport has the power to change lives and nowhere is that more evident than in our Young Ambassadors programme.
“Our annual Young Ambassador conferences provide a great opportunity for young people who are passionate about sport to meet leading athletes, and learn from their experiences.
“It’s a chance for youngsters to make a difference to Scotland’s sporting landscape.”