A project in North Lanarkshire is helping young people gain qualifications through engaging with sport.
The Motherwell Community Sports Hub initiative aims to support young people who are at risk of leaving school with no or limited qualifications, giving them the opportunity to gain qualifications through a sports education programme.
Initially organised as part of the GO LIVE! GET ACTIVE hubs funding, nine young people completed the programme last summer with 15 more being referred to take part in a new block kicking off this month through the support from Community Alternatives – part of North Lanarkshire’s social work which aims to retain young people (11-16) with their families in their own communities – and the area's Active Schools coordinators. The young people referred are all highlighted as having an interest in sport but have a range of difficulties ranging from school refusion to social exclusion.
Ian Russell, senior sports development officer for North Lanarkshire Council, said: “In North Lanarkshire, we are committed to ensuring that the people who can benefit from sport and physical activity the most are provided with as many opportunities as possible. We hope sport will be the hook to engage these young people into learning, continuing in their education and the opportunity of pursuing a career in the sport and physical activity industry.
"To date, I have noticed a huge difference in the confidence and attitudes of the young people attending and really believe that sport is changing the lives of these young people for the better.”
Education through sport
The initiative is part of Scottish Sports Futures’ Education Through Cashback programme, a project developed to engage those most at risk and maximise the impact of provision. The training modules that the young people go through are recognised SCQF Level 4 and 5 qualifications accredited through Glasgow Kelvin College.
Many of the participants wouldn’t receive these opportunities in a mainstream school setting, in which they currently struggle. The modules are delivered in a way that uses sport, an area in which they excel, to get the message across.
The skills developed are transferable into all aspects of their lives - such as communication, goal setting and conflict resolution - and delivered by the local Active Schools coordinators.
North Lanarkshire Council staff have received training to deliver the sessions, as well as psychological training to allow them to be better equipped in working and understanding the young people's behaviours.
Looking to the future
The programme has links with Motherwell CSH’s member clubs and partners like Motherwell FC Community Trust, Joe Wilson Table Tennis and Dalziel Rugby Club to provide the young people with volunteering or paid placement opportunities in their community.
Since the initial programme finished, some of the participants have now gained the confidence to take on young leader roles within their schools and carry on their love of sport by linking with their Active Schools coordinator to help ensure the engagement in sport is developed.
Fred, 15, a participant on the initial block has learned a lot from the programme.
He says: “This programme has really helped to improve my confidence and helped me gain qualifications in an area which I love, sport.
"I don’t read or write particularly well, so the ability to demonstrate my learning through sport has really helped me.
"The knowledge I have gained is also helping me deal with other areas of my life and I would not have looked at them in this way had I not been involved in this programme.”
Brian Fairlie, children and family support worker from Community Alternatives, adds: “To be able to see these young people using sport as the vehicle to learn and gain qualifications is unbelievable.
"The skills they have learned through the programme and sport are invaluable to their everyday lives and it is particularly pleasing to see them progress. Seeing them continually come back week on week speaks volumes.”