PORTSMOUTH’S fast-growing Respect Programme gave youngsters a taste of sports, spices and silly dances.
The Pompey-backed scheme to get young people off the streets held its annual community day and showed off all the activities it runs throughout the year.
More than 500 children aged from five to 19 years old turned up to try their hands at boxing, tennis, football basketball and even dancing the Macarena.
Also at Eastney Community Centre, in Bransbury Park, yesterday were the Royal Navy’s cooking team, local health agencies, firefighters from Hampshire Fire and Rescue, and officers from Hampshire Constabulary.
A member of the Respect team for more than a year, 13-year-old Owen Ballingall, from Bransbury Road, Eastney, was volunteering alongside Heart of Portsmouth Boxing Club.
‘It was a great day,’ he said. ‘We held the pads and helped people with their sparring and footwork.
‘But my favourite part of it all was the navy food; it was a really tasty and spicy curry.
‘The whole programme is great because you get to try new things and make loads of friends.’
Recently praised in a letter from the Home Office for its work in the community, the Respect programme has gone from strength to strength in recent months according to its founder Julian Wadsworth.
‘Not only are we getting more kids in all the time,’ he said, ‘but partners like the navy and police are beginning to really see the effects of what we are doing, and so are committing more time and energy into helping us.
‘The day was really to showcase all the things we do and give the volunteers a chance to celebrate our success.’
The Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Cllr Cheryl Buggy, said the event had been a fantastic advert for the city’s young people.
‘It’s wonderful to see all that talent and enthusiasm,’ she said. ‘The work Respect does has made such a difference to this area.’