Katie Taylor takes a skills session with pupils from New Cross College, Finglas 27/1/2015

Sky Sports has expanded its Living for Sport initiative in Ireland with the addition of eight more athlete mentors.

The programme here is headed up by Katie Taylor and is a free initiative open to all secondary schools across the the country.

It uses sports stars and the skills learned through sport to build confidence and develop life skills in young people. So far over 100 schools have taken part in the programme which involves an initial meeting from one of the sports stars and back up from a team of coaches to bring kids out of themselves and into a better outlook on life through sport.

The new mentors announced for 2015 include Annalise Murphy from sailing, Jessie Barr from Athletics, Darren O’Neill from Boxing, Shaun Berne from Rugby, Aoife McDermott from Basketball, Darren O’Sullivan, Christy Toye, Joey Boland, Stephen McDonnell, Lorcan McGloughlin and Karl Lacey from Gaelic Games.

They will be part of an expanded team that also includes Jenny Murphy, Eoin Rheinisch, Michael McKillop and Natalya Coyle.

The experience for children is drawn on the personal stories of the athletes and how they themselves got through the challenges that can sometimes arise in school.

“I’m so pleased that thousands of young people in Ireland are already experiencing the benefits of Sky Sports Living for Sport,” said Taylor.

“I’m really excited to be announcing that our team of Athlete Mentors is expanding to help inspire even more young people to achieve their potential.”

“We’re delighted with the success of Sky Sports Living for Sport since we launched the programme in Ireland in 2013, said Mark Deering, Director of Corporate Affairs for Sky Ireland.

“Over 100 schools and thousands of children in the country have now experienced first-hand the positive impact that Sky Sports Living for Sport can bring to their lives.

“Today’s expansion of the athletes involved will help us to reach our target of bringing the initiative to one third of secondary schools in Ireland by the end of 2016.”

Teachers can run the Sky Sports Living for Sport initiative on a stand-alone basis or as part of existing curriculum activities by selecting up to 20 students who they feel need support and submitting a simple project plan online. Sky then sends out a starter pack for the teacher and t-shirts for the students. As part of the project, teachers set goals with their groups including asking them to lead their own sports event, before finally celebrating the group’s achievements.