SOUTH Tyneside athlete Craig Heap has jumped in to help borough youngsters become stars of the future.
The former Commonwealth Games gold medal winner has represented England more than 100 times in various international gymnastic competitions.
He is an English and former British champion, who has captained his country, as well as winning five world and five European titles.
Since retiring from competitive gymnastics, he has been a sports mentor, and has now signed up for the Sky Sports Living For Sport scheme.
Heap is one of 13 sporting stars to add to the growing list of Olympic sprint legend Darren Campbell’s team of athlete mentors as they visit pupils in the North East and across the UK.
South Shields Commonwealth swimming champ Chris Cook is already one of the mentors.
Now in its ninth year, Sky Sports Living For Sport, a free initiative run in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, uses sport stars and sport skills to improve the lives of thousands of secondary school pupils.
Heap will go into schools across the North East, sharing his story with pupils.
He will be talking not only about their sporting careers, but about the personal challenges they have faced and overcome.
Amanda Coulson, Sky Sport Living For Sport athlete mentor, said: “Sport is such a powerful tool to use for improving life skills. From my own personal experiences, I know exactly how sport can truly help a person strive to get the best out of life.
“To have the opportunity to share my own story with young people is a real privilege.
“I’m very excited about the year ahead, and meeting more inspirational students across the North East.
“Sky Sports Living For Sport is such a fantastic initiative that really makes a big difference to the lives of thousands of young people.”
Sky Sports Living For Sport has helped 35,000 young people in more than 1,500 schools since the programme began in 2003.
This year, 750 schools across the UK will benefit from a visit from a athlete mentor.
Schools wanting to learn more about how to become involved in Sky Sports Living for Sport can sign up at http://livingforsport.skysports.com/