The double Olympic champion celebrated the launch of her new role by joining Tessa Jowell, Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Ruth Kelly, Secretary of State for Education and Skills, and pupils at Acland Burghley School in London today.
Kelly said: 'I'm both proud and delighted to have been asked to get more children active and healthy through sport. I believe I can help to encourage young people to get more involved and also make this a greater priority for everyone.
'I want to see real change and for more children to take part in more activities. We need to be a sporting nation and for that to happen we have to inspire, motivate, encourage and capture the imagination of all our young people so that sport becomes a part of their day-to-day lives.
'Winning the right to stage the Olympic and the Paralympic Games in
2012 has given British sport a tremendous boost and hopefully we can use this new opportunity to discover a few champions.'
Tessa Jowell believes Kelly's appointment will further boost the sporting opportunities already available to children both in and outside school.
She said: 'I have been talking to Kelly about what she could contribute to future generations since last summer and I'm delighted that the Youth Sport Trust has come up with a really strong package to make use of her skills.
'Kelly's support for the Government's school sport strategy will provide a real boost for school sport and she will no doubt show today's and tomorrow's young people why sport does matter - and how it can change your life for the better.'
Ruth Kelly supported the appointment, which will add further impetus to the national school sport strategy.
She said: 'I'm delighted Kelly will be our National School Sport Champion and warmly welcome this appointment. Kelly's Olympic achievements inspired the nation and through her new role I'm sure she'll inspire and motivate many more children and young people to take part in sport and enjoy it. Our National Sport Strategy has already ensured more young people are participating in school sport.
With Kelly's support and with the 2012 Olympics and the Paralympics on the horizon, I'm sure young people will feel enthused to get the most out of the sport and physical activity opportunities available to them.'
Sue Campbell, Chair of the Youth Sport Trust, said: 'Kelly is a fantastic role model and an inspiration to all of us. She, more than anyone, has the ability to reach young people and motivate them to participate in sport and adopt a healthy lifestyle.'
Sky, through its Living For Sport project in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, is already using sport to inspire and motivate young people in danger of opting out of school. Open to all secondary schools, the initiative targets young people by using sporting experiences to re-engage them with school life and to develop
interpersonal, leadership and coaching skills.
Norwich Union has been supporting grassroots athletics since 1999. It already engages over one million children a year in sporting activity, and through this new partnership with the Youth Sport Trust and Dame Kelly Holmes, the company will help address the decline in sporting participation amongst girls, which was evident in its research late last year.
James Murdoch, Sky's Chief Executive, said: 'We are delighted to be working with Dame Kelly Holmes in her capacity as new National School Sport Champion. With our Living For Sport project partner, the Youth Sport Trust, we believe Kelly will help to inspire and motivate young people across the country to achieve through sport.'
Gary Withers, Chief Executive of Norwich Union Life, said: 'Through our strong support of athletics since 1999, we have been fortunate enough to have worked closely with Kelly for a number of years.
'She is without doubt Britain's leading female sporting role model and her passion and enthusiasm to make a real difference to school sport is infectious. Through this partnership we hope to use sport to ensure that our children are best prepared for the life challenges ahead.'
1. Kelly Holmes' first appearance as National School Sport Champion will be at the Youth Sport Trust's Sports Colleges conference, in Telford, on Thursday, 2 February, 2006.
2. The national school sport strategy's prime objective - a joint DfES and DCMS PSA target - is to increase the percentage of 5-16 year olds who spend a minimum of two hours each week on high quality PE and school sport within and beyond the curriculum, to 75 per cent by 2006 and 85 per cent by 2008. The long-term ambition - by 2010 - is to offer all children at least four hours of sport made up of: at least two hours of PE within the curriculum; and at least 2 to 3 additional hours of sport provided through a range of school, community and club providers.
3. To fulfil her role as National School Sport Champion, Kelly Holmes will be entirely funded by the Youth Sport Trust, Sky and Norwich Union.
4. The Youth Sport Trust is a registered charity established in 1994 to build a brighter future for young people through sport. Its mission is to support the education and development of all young people through physical education (PE) and sport. Please visit www.youthsporttrust.org for more information.
5. Living For Sport has now reached over 300 secondary schools.
Teachers involved have seen a huge difference being made to their students' lives, with 57 per cent reporting improved attitudes to learning.
6. BSkyB operates the leading multichannel television platform in the UK and Ireland. More than 8 million customers enjoy an unprecedented choice of movies, news, entertainment and sports channels and interactive services on Sky digital, the UK and Ireland's most popular digital television platform. BSkyB's channels are also available in more than 9 million households via cable and digital terrestrial television. For more information, visit www.sky.com/corporate
7. Norwich Union has been the number one sponsor of UK Athletics since 1999, dedicating 20 per cent of its investment to developing the sport at a grassroots level. Over a million children per year are now engaged in these schemes and this figure is continuing to grow. In this way Norwich Union is not only committed to preparing the next generation of elite champions, but also increasing sporting participation in and outside school.
8. As a result of Norwich Union's research in 2005 that showed girls are continuing to drop out of sport at an early age, the company will be working with the Youth Sport Trust and Kelly to launch a new initiative aimed to keep girls engaged in sporting activity. This initiative will form a central part of Kelly's new role as the National School Sport Champion.