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The power of sport to change young people’s lives

Over the last 12 months Novus teams at HMYOI Wetherby and Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre (STC) have worked in partnership with a range of organisations to bring a number of sports projects to the establishments. 

Many young people who find themselves in custody have struggled to engage with structured education in the past, so having the opportunity to deliver education in a manner that they can relate to, such as through sport, plays a key role in the work Novus do with young people. 

The projects help the young people to build their communication, team work and motivational skills, which will support them on their journey through education to employment.

Collaboration through cricket

At HMYOI Wetherby Novus colleagues and staff from the prison gym, delivered cricket sessions in collaboration with CricketKidz, Yorkshire Cricket Board (YCB), Yorkshire Cricket Foundation and wider prison staff. 

Learners were supplied with various activity stations including catching and batting machines and a speed gun to test the speed and accuracy of their throwing. During the day the education department used cricket as a tool to deliver maths sessions throughout the establishment. 

The input from Yorkshire County Cricket Club, through YCB, meant the boys were given a fantastic first taste of the skills that are required on the cricket field. 

Yorkshire Cricket Board facilitate and support grassroots cricket programs across the county, and their involvement was integral to the success of the day as they brought partners together to deliver the sessions. 

Steve Archer, Yorkshire Cricket Board, said: “We are delighted to be involved in this project, and look forward to furthering our relationship, with the aim of offering opportunities to develop the skill sets of the young men, enhance their life skills and provide opportunities for them to be integrated back into society once released.” 

Ben Callender, Head of Education at HMYOI Wetherby, said: “This event showcased the positive relationships Novus have developed, with both internal and external partners, to offer the lads another avenue to be engaged in a meaningful activity. 

“I would like to express my gratitude to the partners who came in to run the session and also to all our HMPPS colleagues within HMYOI Wetherby for supporting in the facilitation of a special day.” 

Driving opportunities through golf 

Golf was the driver for a group of young people at Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre to build on their personal development. Coaches from the Golf Foundation, worked with the young people to practice golf skills, reflect on their shot choices and discuss how they would do things differently with a particular shot, which helped learners to manage their emotions and frustrations. Working in partnership the learners showed team work, encouraging each other with their shots and offering praise when they had done well. 

The feedback from the young people was overwhelming and Novus and MTCnovo are both keen to develop this initiative, using the ‘Power of Sport’ to encourage behaviours which can be transferred into the classroom. The support from the Golf Foundation through HSBC Golf Roots PLUS has given the young people a great opportunity, and the team are looking to develop this further. 

Paul Aitkens, Regional Development Officer West Midlands, at the Golf Foundation, said: “Being an outside deliverer attending Rainsbrook I was made to feel comfortable and welcomed. The enthusiasm from members of staff, and importantly from the learners, was refreshing to see. The engagement from the learners made the session easy to deliver and allowed me to give them more scope to use their imagination to create games which they can hopefully deliver. They were also able to learn basic coaching points which they used to help improve their golf along with teaching some of the adult members of staff!” 

Engaging in rugby 

Dallaglio RugbyWorks recently completed a 12 month programme with the young people at the Centre. The programme uses rugby to get teenagers outside of mainstream education into sustained education, employment or training. Coaches from Dallaglio RugbyWorks hosted weekly rugby skills sessions at the Centre, introducing the key themes of rugby – communication, team work and fair play – to the young people. Many of them had never experienced rugby before and the session had a hugely positive impact on the learners. 

The power of sport in prisons was reinforced by the publication of a report by respected psychologist Dr Rosie Meek on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, ‘A Sporting Chance: An Independent Review of Sport in Adult and Youth Prisons’. The report highlighted the importance of sport within prisons and how it can engage young offenders in their education. 

James Thomas, Novus Sport and Enrichment Coordinator, said: “It’s really great to see the young people engaging with these activities regardless if they were new to the sport or had past experience. 

The power of sport to engage and inspire young people cannot be underestimated. Working in collaboration with our amazing partners, we are seeing some truly outstanding results in the sites where we work.

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