Team Ireland Olympic Champion Kellie Harrington visited her old primary school and her boxing club to inspire the next generation of kids to reach for their dreams.
The Toyko 2020 Olympic Games gold medal winner took a break from her intense training schedule for this summer’s Paris 2024 Olympic Games to tell the kids that “anything is possible if they back themselves.”
The appearance was a Dare to Believe Community event supported by PTSB. Dare to Believe is an Olympic Federation of Ireland school’s programme that promotes Olympic values to young people, incorporating inspiring visits from Olympic ambassadors.
Kellie Harrington said, “Having the support of PTSB in bringing this story to St. Mary’s Boxing Club meant so much to me. The club has helped me achieve my dreams, and I have no doubt that there will be children who were there who will go on to achieve their goals too.
“As a Dare to Believe ambassador I’m passionate about sharing my story with young people and letting them know what is possible if they back themselves.”
The clubhouse was full with more than 80 excited children meeting their hero, listening to her tell her story and watching her demonstrate some of her boxing skills.
PTSB’s Head of Retail Distribution Eddie Kearney said, “Sport and physical activity plays such an important role in the development of young people in communities across Ireland which is why PTSB is really proud to be title sponsor of Team Ireland and the Dare to Believe Schools Programme.”
“Events like today really showcase the incredible opportunities the programme creates in introducing young people to their sporting heroes and role models. I have no doubt that these fantastic young boxers will be inspired by their interactions with an Olympic Champion, feel encouraged to believe in themselves with the backing of their coaches and strive even harder to reach their full potential,” Mr Kearney said.
Earlier in the morning, Kellie paid a visit to her old primary school, St. Vincent’s Girls National School on North William Street to give her backing to the school’s breakfast club. St Vincent’s prepares breakfast for its students every day in ‘Kellie’s Kitchen’ – a title unofficially given to the school kitchen by principal Margaret O’Connor.
During her visit, Kellie’s Kitchen was made official with a bright new sign outside its door. Principal O’Connor explains that the kitchen was refurbished a number of years ago because of Kellie’s support.
“That’s how it became Kellie’s kitchen. Kellie was at the [Tokyo] Olympics then and was so busy that we never officially launched it. But we have a little photograph of her up there in the kitchen and it’s framed so it was always in our mind.”
Principal O’Connor continues, “Kellie has a particular affinity with the kitchen, there’s a woman here called Mary Hynes, she comes in at a quarter to seven every morning to prepare breakfast, she’s a local woman and Kellie is very fond of Mary.”
She said that the kitchen serves more than just the basic function of feeding children, it brings them together.
“Food is a very basic thing for us, for a lot of the kids, maybe they’re not hungry when they leave home so they eat here instead, and they can have a chat and relax. We use the kitchen to improve attendance. Children really enjoy that communal aspect of eating together,” Principal O’Connor said.
Dare to Believe Programme Manager Roisin Jones said it meant a lot to see Kellie return to the school where she spent so many years in her youth.
“This is what Dare to Believe is all about – showing kids that they too can dream big and achieve in life. You can’t underestimate the impact that these amazing Olympic ambassadors can have on young children, it creates a memorable moment for them that they will recall for years to come.”