THE UK's first fully inclusive sporting venue has officially opened in Worcester.
Schoolchildren, sports stars and civic dignitaries gathered at the University of Worcester Arena for the opening ceremony on Wednesday.
The £15 million building was officially opened by Sir Philip Craven, a fives times former paralympian and president of the International Paralympic Committee.
Sir Philip described the venue as "inspiring" and said sport should be for all.
He said: "Teachers need encouragement to adopt a relatively new approach.
"Don't send kids to the Library. Open sport up and get all kids in your school participating in sport.
"This venue has been really well thought out and I love it."
David Green, the University of Worcester's vice chancellor and chief executive, said the Arena was helping Worcester and the university make an international impact.
He said: "This morning I had a call from the head of the European basketball association to congratulate me and the university and the city on this venue and what a fantastic facility it is for paralympic athletes."
Professor Green thanked all those who had supported the Arena from large organisations to individual people who may have bought a brick during the fundraising campaign.
He also pointed out the Arena was already home to the Worcester Wolves, Great Britain's Women's Wheelchair basketball team and will stage the 2015 European Wheelchair Basketball Championships.
At the ceremony, local schools competed in an inclusive zone basketball tournament, where able-bodied and disabled pupils played side by side.
Pupils from Tudor Grange Academy Worcester, Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College, Evesham High School, Christopher Whitehead Language College took part along with students from Tewkesbury High School and Baxter College in Redditch.
Tudor Grange PE teacher Lucy Taylor said: "We are trying to get able-bodied and disabled pupils to work together and learn together.
"And this event is a great way to bring the schools of Worcester together."
Worcester Wolves player Alex Owumi said: "This is my second year with the Wolves and last year we played in sports halls.
"This venue is great for the atmosphere.
"For home games we get about 1,000 people here.
"When the fans get here you can't hear anything because it's so loud.
"It's great for the city. It's something to do on a Friday night when we have a home game."