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A PUPIL from Dunblane High School is celebrating the half-way mark of their important role in developing sport in Scotland as part of the young people’s sport panel.

Rachel Rennie, 15, celebrated the milestone along with fellow panel members at a special residential visit to the new sportscotland National Sports Training Centre Inverclyde in Largs, which opened its doors to the public only weeks ago following a major £12million redevelopment funded by Scottish Government and sportscotland, the national agency for sport.

Established by sportscotland, supported by Young Scot, the young people’s sport panel is a national platform to represent a voice of young people across the country.

Rachel and the 14 other panel members were selected from over 180 applicants across a five month rigorous recruitment process to be part of the team that helps to influence and shape the future of sport in Scotland.

The Young people’s sport panel is currently in its third two-year cycle and Rachel has already made great strides in ensuring the voice of young people is part of the sporting conversation across Scotland.

Rachel was introduced to public health and sport minister Aileen Campbell at the Scottish Parliament in June 2016 at the start of her sporting journey with sportscotland.

The panel had the opportunity to partake in a Q&A session with Ms Campbell, discussing how to raise the profile of sport among young people across the country.

The panel were also part of Scotland’s homecoming event to mark the success of the Scots on Team GB and ParalympicsGB at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Rio.

Commencing at Oriam, Scotland's Sports Performance Centre, the panel assisted the athletes as they took part in sporting events with school children across the country.

Rachel said: “I’ve has such an inspiring first year and it’s so exciting to look forward to the year ahead and to be a voice for young people in sport.”

With 2018 marked ‘The Year of Young People’, Rachel and the panel are even more determined to be heavily involved in sportscotland’s approach in making sure young people across Scotland get the chance to get their voices heard at a local and national level.

The residential provided an opportunity for the panel to finalise the various projects they will undertake over the next year, discussing the ways in which they will continue to utilise their

roles to influence and shape the future of sport, as well as raising the overall profile of sport in Scotland.

One way Rachel and the panel are keen to achieve this is by creating a toolkit outlining how other sporting organisations can replicate their own version of the Young people’s sport panel to ensure young people have an ever stronger voice in decision making.

Regarded as the ‘blueprint’ of young people’s panels, sportscotland has been approached by Scottish Disability Sport, Scottish Rugby, Scottish Hockey and South Lanarkshire who have since created their own groups with support from sportscotland after being inspired by the Young people’s sport panel’s progress.

The panel are also keen to host various leadership conferences across the country next year as well as continuing to challenge key influencers at a senior level in Scottish sport.

Stewart Harris, chief executive of sportscotland, is delighted with the progress the panel has already made.

He said: “I am always impressed by the commitment and passion for sport these young people have. They‘ve already made a real impact both at a local and national level, and have some really topical campaigns planned for 2018’s Year of The Young People.

“Rachel has shown herself to be a true leader in sport and is part of a really inspiring group who I’m sure will have a positive influence on sport in this country over the next year.”

Louise Macdonald, chief executive of Young Scot, added: “Rachel and the rest of Young people’s sport panel have brought a huge amount of enthusiasm and commitment to their roles.

"We’ve all been greatly impressed by their ability to rise to the challenge and their passion to make Scotland a more active nation for all young people.”

The Young people’s sport panel will begin recruiting for the 2018/20 members in January 2018.

For more information, sportscotland.org.uk/sportpanel or follow #sportpanel on Twitter.