Street Swords fencing project confronting youth crime foils all competition to scoop national innovation award
North East England Regional Fencing has won a prestigious national award for their Street Swords programme in the Sport and Recreation Alliance’s Community Sport and Recreation Awards.
The Alliance’s President, HRH The Earl of Wessex, presented the club with the Innovative Project Award at a ceremony in St James’s Palace in London on 9 July.
Innovation is what brought sportingactivities to the world and gave us the diverse choice we have today. This prestigious award celebrates the inspired programmes, schemes and initiatives that so many community organisations undertake throughout the country.
North East England Regional Fencing’s Street Swords project began life in 2008 as a few fencing sessions delivered to young people in deprived areas – but it has since gone from strength to strength and they have now delivered projects in Middlesbrough, Peterlee, Hartlepool and Durham.
To date they have trained over 80 young people as leaders who have taught over 800youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds how to fence.
Teaching participants to use intelligence and logic over aggression, and giving them confidence and transferable skills, Street Swords have successfully created an army of leaders, coaches and fencing enthusiasts from the most unlikely of backgrounds.
The Street Swords team have shown funding bodies that putting fencing weapons in the hands of young people some of whom are very disadvantaged as well as young offenders, is a great idea, and since 2011 have been in partnership with The Princes Trust and Stockton Riverside College. They have opened fencing clubs in Darlington and Middlesbrough and now they have plans to open another in Durham.
Sallie Barker, Interim Chief Executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, said:
“This award recognises the outstanding work that North East England Regional Fencing has achieved with their Street Swords programme in using sport as a powerful force for social good.
“The judges were particularly impressed with the way that Street Swords is not only transforming young people’s lives and changing perceptions of young offenders, but also changing perceptions of fencing and opening the sport up to an entirely new group of participants.
“The innovative thinking and courage that went into creating and pushing forward the Street Swords programme is an inspiration to the whole sport and recreation sector.”
Marie Liston, North East Region England Fencing and England Fencing President, said:
“I’m delighted that this innovative and inspiring project has been recognised with this award. Street Swords has had such a positive influence on everyone involved in the project, creating opportunities and development for young people in a challenging area.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the work continue and expand, allowing many others to benefit from the opportunities Street Swords affords.”
Katy Robinson, Street Swords Leader, said:
“Being involved in the Street Swords project not only gave me a qualification, but increased my skills and knowledge within a coaching setting. It gave me the confidence and platform from which I have gone on to gain more coaching qualifications in different sports.
“I hope to stay involved with Street Swords potentially becoming a community coach using my newly gained skills and knowledge to give back to the community.”
Beth Davidson, North East Regional Fencing Development Officer, said:
“Using the sport of fencing as a tool for building self-esteem, confidence and job skills in young people seems an unlikely combination but Street Swords I hope has re-branded old fashioned perceptions!
“This award is a credit to all the partners involved and made it happen, especially The Princes Trust, Stockton Riverside College and UK Steel Enterprise.”
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