BOXING is being used as a way of increasing the confidence and well-being of young people on an estate.
Funded by Hampshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner, the weekly sessions are for boys and girls aged from nine to 18 years old in Leigh Park.
And the classes have been a huge success, with teenagers kept off the streets and enjoying healthy exercise instead.
The initiative is being supported by charity Big World Impact, which was started by international entrepreneur Jo White, who set up the charity last year to help the estate she comes from.
One of the tutors is Leigh Park professional boxer and highly-rated prospect, 27-year-old Joel Mclntyre.
Joel is particularly impressed with the support for young people who are start to act recklessly.
He openly admits he got into a lot of trouble as a teenager in Leigh Park and was a bit of a menace in the neighbourhood.
‘I have turned my life around through sport,’ said Joel.
‘I want to work alongside Big World Impact to help educate and support young people to make the same life choices.
‘The Big World Impact sessions are brilliant; they keep young people off the streets and introduce them to an activity that allows them to learn new skills and build new friendship groups.’
The weekly sessions take place at the Leigh Park Amateur Boxing club, in Leigh Park Community Centre.
There are six levels of awards; Preliminary, Standard, Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum. The first three awards are all non-contact.
Morgan Fewings, 13, said: ‘The sessions have made me healthier and I am more confident. I want to complete all the awards and become a tutor myself when I turn 16.’
Julian Wadsworth, community engagement manager at Big World Impact, said: ‘These awards are an excellent opportunity to engage young people in physical activity whilst helping them achieve certification, in informal but supportive and structured coaching sessions.
‘We have had over 40 young people achieve awards in the past year, with many of them not involved in regular sport prior to starting the sessions.’