London Youth reaches over 75,000 young Londoners through its work with youth organisations in every London borough. Their Getting Ready programme was launched in 2009 with the aim of enabling young Londoners of all backgrounds and abilities to come together and develop through sports.
The scheme covers around 35 sports in more than 90 youth clubs – meaning Getting Ready has already worked directly with nearly 10,600 young people since its conception. The programme comprises of four elements: a sports taster session, a 10-week programme in the young person’s favoured sport, the chance to obtain coaching qualifications and finally, participation in pan-London competitions.
The Jack Petchey Foundation’s £20,000 grant has gone towards funding another 150 young people to achieve Level 1 coaching qualifications and also delivering 7 sports events which will enable 1,700 young people to participate in structured inter-club competitions.
On 19th February the Jack Petchey London Youth Football tournament kicked off at London City. 41 teams from 21 different youth clubs battled it out to become champions of their age groups. Thomas O’Grady, 13 from Salaam Peace in Waltham Forest has been playing for 2 years because: “You make loads of friends outside of school, you stay fit and healthy and it’s better than staying at home doing nothing!”
The benefits of Getting Ready are undeniable. A sample survey highlighted that over 90% of the young people who had taken part in Getting Ready were still playing sports a year later. The national sports charity and London Youth partner, StreetGames, published a report entitled ‘Inactivity Time Bomb’ which contained staggering statistics. For instance, their research suggests that physical inactivity among today’s 11-25 year olds will cost the UK economy £53.3 billion over their lifetimes.
StreetGames also discovered that lowest-income households are most likely to have inactive children. London Youth want to ensure that wealth is no barrier when it comes to personal and professional development. More than half of Getting Ready’s participants attend youth clubs in the 20% most economically deprived areas in the country. These young people are most at risk of leaving the educational system with few, or no, qualifications. Getting Ready, however, offers them a safe environment to develop skills, gain confidence and vocational coaching experience. In fact 1123 youth workers and young people involved with Getting Ready have gained coaching and leadership qualifications since 2009.
Zoe Mellis has been London Youth’s Head of Sports Development since September 2010. Representing Great Britain at various events as a junior in tennis and working with Sport England has provided Zoe with a comprehensive insight into the sports industry which led to her work with London Youth. “I benefited so much from sport and I wanted to get as many young people as possible to benefit from it too,” says Zoe, “and this is a great way to do it”.
Getting Ready is being funded by various other charities and groups such as Sport England, the Mayor’s Office, Tudor Foundation, Heathrow Communities Trust and local authority support in Lambeth, Hillingdon and Hounslow.
London Youth also has two residential learning centres – one of which is Hindleap Warren. Last year London Youth celebrated 50 years of outdoor education at Hindleap and launched their My Hindleap appeal, which seeks to deliver outdoor education for 100,000 young people over the next 10 years.
As part of this bid, the Jack Petchey Foundation has donated an additional £75,000 to produce ‘the Petchey-fied tower’. This new purpose-built, climbing, abseiling and zip wire tower will be fully inclusive – with opportunities for wheelchair users to get involved too. Around 5000 young people a year will see Jack’s ‘if you think you can, you can!’ motto on the side. The approximate 25 years lifespan means a whopping 125,000 young people will be inspired by Jack as they stand 15 meters above the ground, absolutely ‘Petchey-fied’!
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