Changing hearts, changing minds and changing lives
A promise of nine days of free fun and exercise for local children aged 8-13 at Easter prompted the families of 50 youngsters to register for the Dagenham and Redbridge FC Community Trust’s PL Kicks Restart Activity recently held at May and Bakers Sports Ground.
Having had to cancel all of their Premier League Kicks programmes as a result of COVID restrictions the Daggers Trust was keen to offer a holiday period activity to local youngsters who have had little time in recent months to get outside, exercise, make new friends and simply enjoy life.
Following on from the Marcus Rashford initiative, the children not only participated in five and a half hours of fun each day, but each was offered a hot healthy meal at lunchtime, cooked onsite by May and Bakers staff. In addition to the Trust coaches, the activities were supported by members of the local Metropolitan Police, Box Up Crime, local Met Police Dog Units and the Met’s TSG based in Chadwell Heath.
Over the nine days the children were encouraged to ‘Step out of their comfort zone’, try new activities, improve the interpersonal communication skills and take on new challenges. They were encouraged to work as a team and support each other, whilst developing their own confidence and abilities.
Having experienced football, archery, dodgeball, rounders, cricket, boxing and many other team activities the children finished on the last afternoon with a game of rounders against the adults, including those parents who had come down early to watch.
The feedback from the youngsters says it all: “I really liked my Easter club. My coaches were amazing. I have learnt loads of new sports, From, boxing I learnt self-defence. I had a really good time”. “I enjoyed the activities. I learned about having a healthy diet. I also learned about teamwork and playing as a team”. “I did loads of communicating and teamwork, especially after lock down it was so nice to work in groups”. “I learnt to hold a shield and the police aren’t scary they are really friendly and always there to help”.
From the Met’s perspective, one officer said, “I've learnt that they are very smart and articulate and respond really well to encouragement, support and praise. They are very perceptive and receptive to learning through play, being challenged and encouraged to come out of comfort zones. When placed in the right learning environment with the right conditions, they can deliver to a high standard”. What was his most memorable moment? “Picking up on a young man sitting on his own during lunch, being advised by him he was sad because he was called rubbish by some of his peers in an earlier activity , getting him to recognise all the wonderful qualities he had in his toolbox and not to allow one word to replace all these other amazing words, and then with his permission, sharing this learning opportunity with everyone, which then resulted in the majority of his peers coming across and joining him at his table which then became the biggest and loudest group in the room, with this young person at the heart of the positive conversation taking place”.
Stephen Addison BEM, the CEO of Box Up Crime is an inspirational speaker who was left gobsmacked by the children who were able to not only answer his questions, but also the level of questioning they posed when he spoke to them during the second week. The Trust looks forwarded to working again with Stephen and his crew in the near future.
The Daggers Trust is a registered charity and primarily works with children in the Borough providing free, or at little cost opportunities. The funding for the nine days came from the Premier League Charitable Fund, utilising money which has gone unspent as a result of the various lockdowns. The Trust has further funds available to provide free opportunities locally in the coming future and continues to submit bids to funders for further projects.
At Whitsun the Football Foundation has provided a grant to the Trust to run a “Return to Football’ Camp at May and Bakers for girls aged 7-16. The four days of camp will run from Monday 31st May until Thursday 3rdJune starting at 1 am and finishing at around 2.30pm.
The regular Premier League Kicks sessions every Thursday restarted after Easter with two groups, one for 8-12 year olds and the other for 12-18 year olds. A “Girls’ Only” Kicks group will start on Thursday 13th May at 6pm. All Kicks sessions are free.
Anyone interested in the Trust activities should email: firstname.lastname@example.org