Courage, determination, respect and passion. These are just four values youngsters are learning through a new Boxing Scotland initiative in Fife, which encourages young people to step into the boxing ring and away from violence.
Punch Beyond, a partnership between Police Scotland, Active Schools, Youth Justice, Boxing Scotland and Trench Boxing Gym engages young people in boxing, while preventing and deterring aggressive behaviour.
Launched as a six-week pilot scheme at St Columba’s High School in Dunfermline, participants are taught the skills and techniques necessary for this disciplined sport, get support with anger management and build their confidence.
Learning the discipline of boxing is having an important impact on young people’s daily lives, as St Columba's High School pupil, Brandon Lafferty, explained. He said: “Being part of Punch Beyond showed me how far I could push myself physically, it was great seeing others in the group enjoying themselves and working hard to reach their limits.
“I would recommend this opportunity to other pupils as it allows you to build confidence and be more social.”
Sessions are split between boxing and fitness, managed by professional boxing coach Gordon Brennan, and educational workshops looking at the impact of violent activities delivered by a range of organisations including the NHS, Scottish Association for Mental Health and Sarco.
The partnership has great ambition and is pulling no punches when it comes to engaging more young people. Punch Beyond will now be rolled out to all secondary schools in Dunfermline for the 2019-20 school year, engaging pupils from St Columba's, Woodmill, Queen Anne and Dunfermline high schools.
The team are passionate about the opportunity the boxing initiative provides for young people in Fife. Scott Morgan, Police Scotland school engagement officer, said:
“This is a great opportunity for young people to learn skills and techniques of a disciplined sport, while gaining insight into key life lessons that will help their decision making in the future.
“From our initial pilot at St Columba’s High School we have seen new friendships form and a large proportion of the group are now attending evening sessions at Trench Boxing Gym in their free time.
“We view this as a great opportunity for young people to engage with police in a positive manner and remove any barriers.”
With 120 pupils expected to be enrolled in several waves throughout the school year, the initiative looks set to hit the spot for hundreds of young people.
Active Schools coordinator, Darren Wilson, said: “It is brilliant to see youths from all environments working to their limit and being tested both physically and mentally. I’m excited to see what percentage from next year’s intake we can get attending this community orientated club.”
Strong connections between the Active Schools coordinator, Fife Council and Police Scotland have ensured the project’s success, as pupil Brandon noted. He said: “Thank you to all of our lead partners for their contribution in setting up this initiative and for the funding support provided by The Carnegie Trust and Fife Council’s Dunfermline Area Committee.”