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Caithness News Bulletins March 2003

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The Highland Council has warmly welcomed two national initiatives which will promote a healthier lifestyle for young people and a £1.244 million grant from the New Opportunities Fund, the biggest of the National Lottery good cause distributors, which will support out-of-hours sports, including dance, outdoor education, adventure and other challenging activities for 5-16 year olds.

The grant will also fund activities designed specifically to divert young people away from crime or behaviour likely to lead to crime.

Projects included in the Highland programme are: Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme; NCH Scotland; youth work and Gael Force 10 training; a Move on Up project in Caithness and Sutherland; an after schools activity programme in Grantown; a Local-Motion project in Inverness and Nairn; a Lochaber Body Moves project; a sports participation programme in Ross and Cromarty and an outdoor actrivity project in Skye and Lochalsh.

Bruce Robertson, Director of Education Culture and Sport for The Highland Council, said: "We are delighted with this award from the New Opportunities Fund. We are aware that access to sport and leisure is a key issue for young people in Highland. This scheme significantly increases the scope of current provision, especially after school The scheme contributes to our strategic priority of improving young peopleís health and wellbeing while providing a lifelong awareness of the value of healthy lifestyles. It also creates a partnership approach to diversionary projects using sporting and cultural activities to prevent young people getting involved in crime and anti social behaviour."

Meanwhile, the Council has also greeted with enthusiasm an announcement by Deputy Sports Minister, Dr Elaine Murray, that an additional £50 million will be made available over the next three years to promote sport in Scotland. This is to help Sportscotland implement the next phase of Sport 21: Shaping Scotlandís Future. The announcement stated that Sportscotland will work with local authorities and the governing bodies of sport to deliver new agendas for sport.

For the Highlands this will mean a closer partnership between The Highland Council, Sportscotland and the Highland community to deliver the National Strategy for Education, The Highland Cultural Strategy and the plans for 2007 when Scotland will celebrate a year of Highland Culture. As part of this, the Highlands will be promoted as a major destination for people wanting to come and participate in outdoor sports.

Mr Robertson, added: "We would love to be seen as a rival to New Zealandís South Island for sport, and with our natural environment, there is no reason why we shouldnít. With plans to get our communities, particularly our children, active and involved in sport, along with our proposals for 21st Century Schools with new community facilities, this exciting partnership with Sportscotland is a great investment in our future. We share their vision of a Highlands where sport is more widely available for all, and where our talent flourishes. We look forward to working together to achieve our joint goals."