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Winning Loughborough University inclusive designs showcased by Youth Sport Trust

Loughborough University students have showcased their designs for new sports products that can be used by pupils in special schools at the Youth Sport Trust 2015 Conference.

Students from the Loughborough Design School took part in the Ability Sports Competition, where they were tasked with designing an enabling and inclusive sports product for school pupils living with physical and/or cognitive impairment.

A unique aspect of the competition was that all the products entered had to be co-designed with pupils from two special schools, Dorothy Goodman School and Ashfield Academy.

The competition was sponsored by Youth Sport Direct, the commercial arm of the Youth Sport Trust, and supported by the Andrew Simpson Sports Enabling Trust. It was run as a pilot for a new national and international design competition, with the aim of creating more sports products for young people with special needs.

Twenty two Design School students submitted entries, working with 27 pupils from the two special schools.

Five students’ designs were shortlisted, each receiving £100.  The overall winner was Nicholas Johnson for his ‘Dashboard’ game, a high-energy activity that provides players with an opportunity to practice coordination and decision-making skills in a fun way.  Nicholas, who is in his second year of an Industrial Design and Technology degree, has won a £3,000 bursary from Youth Sport Direct.  This will enable him to develop his winning design through to a commercial product under the supervision of Ross Weir at Loughborough University spin-out Progressive Sports.

Design School academic George Torrens, who organised the collaboration between the special schools and the University said: “This was a great opportunity for the students to work with school pupils who live very different lives from themselves.

“We have a long-standing relationship with Ash Field Academy and Dorothy Goodman School. The Youth Sport Trust and Andrew Simpson Sports Enabling Trust have given our students and the pupils they worked with the opportunity to transform their creative energy into a sports product they can all use.”

Jo Simpson, Managing Director of Youth Sport Direct added: “We are absolutely delighted to be a part of this project. Our aim as an organisation is to create a brighter future for young people through sport and physical activity – that means all young people regardless of age or ability. Congratulations to Nick on his win; we look forward to helping bring his dream to life!”