Humans of Grassroots Sport | Patrik Ewe
31 May 2019 • By - Will Chrimes
Read time 2 minutes
Up next in our Humans of Grassroots Sport series is Track Academy’s Patrik Ewe, who chatted to us about how sport and education help empower young athletes to achieve life-long lessons and outcomes.
Sport has an incredible ability to engage with hard-to-reach kids in deprived areas around the UK. Track Academy believes sport and education are a match made in heaven, and when combined, greatly improves lives. Sport and education help empower our young athletes to achieve life-long lessons and outcomes.
Track Academy founder Connie Henry launched the initiative after seeing both these powerful tools in action thanks from her time in professional athletics and before when she was a teacher.
Connie took on fostering the Willesden Athletics Club 12 years ago to provide better support for the many struggling youngsters in the area. This group are not having an easy ride at school and often come from fragile family situations.
Track Academy uses sport as a tool to engage with these kids who would otherwise be incredibly hard to get in front of. These kids have often been expelled on countless occasions and the mainstream system as turned its back on them. Deprivation within boroughs is a major factor for these kids finding life difficult and Brent is one of the worst across the City of London. Kids are 50% less likely to be active in these deprived areas and that really has a negative effect on mental well-being.
ITV’s recent Run For Your Life programme underlined many of the hurdles facing these local children. Knife crime is endemic within deprived areas in London and athletics is trying to provide a path away from gangs and crime.
Sport instantly provides the kids with physical benefits that come from feeling and looking good. Exercise releases endorphins too, but Track Academy goes much further than that to deliver life-long lessons. Something the track cannot solely provide.
Our coaches are awesome. They naturally become mentors to our kids and encourage them to see that someone is there for them. Too many times they have been left to fend for themselves and been turned away, we put someone in their corner again. It’s rare for them to have that sense of support.
That support at the club also provides a vital safe place. Often kids are scared of heading outside at times and moving from estate to estate. Our club also creates a place to chat with the kids about topics and concerns that are off limits at school or with family. Sport breaks down barriers and means we can try put the kids back on the right path for a fulfilled life.
Our track sessions run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays. Athletics is the hook and we use it to implement homework classes. One cannot be done without the other. We want the athletes to improve on the track and classroom. Even if there is a big event in the UK, the kids have to take their homework with them and find time to get the exercises done in between races.
Stats show it’s really working too. 92% of our pupils who have been part of our project for at least a year say they feel more excited by their futures now. Changing outlook on life is vital and athletics gives us a golden opportunity to do just that, it’s a tool for change and provides us with a perfect platform.