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University sports students kick off new ‘aim high’ campaign


Successful sports students from the University of Wolverhampton are launching a new campaign which encourages young people to aim high.

Olympic Gymnast and 2012 medallist, Kristian Thomas, professional boxer, Lauren Johnson, Great Britain Rhythmic Gymnast, Meme Cesar, British Junior Judo Champion, Kelly Peterson-Pollard and England Indoor Cricketer, Ali Tariq, will be visiting schools across the Black Country and Telford and Wrekin this week.

The ‘THEy Did – You Can’ campaign has been organised by Aspire to HE – a partnership funded through the government’s National Collaborative Outreach Programme and led by the University of Wolverhampton.  It aims to double the number of young people from disadvantaged backgrounds going on to Higher Education by 2020.

The Aspire to HE partnership works with seven local Further Education colleges and over forty secondary schools.

The high-profile students who have all excelled in their chosen sport will be visiting schools and colleges as guest lectures, hosting question and answer sessions on their career paths and their experience of University.

They will be joined by the Chief Executive of the Children’s University, Helen O’Donnell, also a graduate of the University of Wolverhampton and Councillor Shaun Davis, Leader of Telford and Wrekin Council.

Jackie Dunne, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Wolverhampton and Chair of Aspire to HE, said:  “We know that many young people see University as a step too far and a place ‘not for them’ when this couldn’t be further from the truth.  This is particularly the case with young people who have no close family members that have previously been to university.

“I know that many of our local employers are looking for more skilled, local young people, and this includes graduate talent.  I hope that some of the stories that are shared will inspire more young people to aim high and consider university.”

Kristian Thomas said: “It was a real honour to be approached by Aspire to HE to be part of their ‘tHEy did; you can’ campaign. Growing up locally, I know the importance of having role models and someone who can show you what is possible. I worked hard to achieve what I did in sport and am continuing to work hard at the University of Wolverhampton to support the next phase of my professional life. There’s absolutely no reason why these young people cannot do the same.” 

Principal of City of Wolverhampton College, Claire Boliver, said: ‘We are delighted to be working with the University on this valuable project, which will help young people reach their full potential.

“Too many talented youngsters leave school or college without ever considering Higher Education as an option, and we want to make sure that everyone with the talent to succeed has the opportunity to do so, and progress on to HE, whatever their background.”

The two week ‘tHEy did; you can’ campaign was formally launched at City of Wolverhampton College on Tuesday 10th October 2017.

Dave Elmore: University of Wolverhampton Head Judo Coach, Kristian Thomas:  Olympic Gymnast and 2012 medalist, Lauren Johnson: Professional Boxer, Ali Tariq : England Indoor Cricketer, Kelly Peterson-Pollard: British Judo Champion.


For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

Date Issued: 10th October 2017

For more information please contact the Media Relations Office on 01902 32 2736 or 01902 518647.

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