THE North-East’s first special Olympics GB programme for people with intellectual disabilities has been launched.

The charity Special Olympics GB aims to use the power of sport to transform people’s lives.

A new sports club, led by Gateshead Council, will have its main training centre at Gateshead Civic Centre.

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The club will focus mainly on athletics, aquatics, boccia, cycling, football, netball, powerlifting, table tennis and ten pin bowling.

More than 130 local volunteers are attending local inductions for the Special Olympics GB programme and it is hoped that significant numbers of athletes will join the programme.

Keith Hogan, chairman of the Special Olympics programme in Gateshead, said: "The passion of the local community has been overwhelming and the enthusiasm of our athletes in the area has been incredible.

“We are all very excited to start this journey and the partnership with Special Olympics which we have created has been extremely positive.

“We are delighted to receive our accreditation certificate from the Special Olympics GB organisation to provide sports coaching and programmes for local people with intellectual disabilities."

Special Olympics GB CEO Karen Wallin said: "We are thrilled that Gateshead Council has embraced the Special Olympics GB programme and wish them every success going forward."

The year-round sports coaching and events provided by Special Olympics in Great Britain are clinically proven to positively change the quality of lives for the 8,000 registered athletes.

To get involved contact Keith Hogan on 0191- 433 2455 or at keithhogan@gateshead.gov.uk