AoS gives young people a voice at YJB Youth Justice Leaders’ Summit
The Alliance of Sport took young leaders from organisations in the Levelling the Playing Field project to represent the voice of young people at last week’s YJB Youth Justice Leaders’ Summit in Birmingham.
Reahana and Davarel Gordon from Fight 4 Change, Danish Jamil and Anuj Dubedi from Wolverhampton Wrestling Club, and Kasey Brown from Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme and Shamza Butt from Bradford City Community Foundation, who are both part of a Youth Endowment Fund initiative called the Peer Action Collective, all spoke to delegates at the event.
All six young people are role models to their peers at their respective community organisations and are shining examples of how sport and physical activity can successfully engage ethnically diverse young people who may otherwise be vulnerable to negative influences within their communities.
All have experienced complex trauma and the temptations of becoming involved in crime – yet all have discovered ‘safe places and safe faces’ at their respective local sports clubs, where they can be physically active, develop resilience and discipline, build positive relationships, access relatable role models and achieve goals.
The young people took part in a Q&A session at the Youth Justice Leaders’ Summit led by Keith Fraser, Chair of the Youth Justice Board and the Levelling the Playing Field steering group.
They explained the engagement process they’d all successfully gone through as young people, the importance of sport and physical activity on their respective journeys, the issues they have faced and how they felt about being role models.
Danish from Levelling the Playing Field specialist partners Wolverhampton Wrestling Club told Keith and delegates at the session: “If I can do 300 burpees after a hard session, that means I can do anything!”
Anuj added: “Sport gives me discipline and the confidence to do anything I set my mind to.”
Alliance of Sport Chief Operating Officer, Justin Coleman, said: “These young people are role models to other young people in their communities and are exactly the outcomes we should be looking for when using sport and physical activity in the Criminal Justice System.
“They have demonstrated resilience, found a purpose and are giving back to their communities. They were able to demonstrate to delegates at the Summit the power of sport as an early intervention and prevention tool to dissuade young people from crime.”
Reahana was recently named Levelling the Playing Field’s 2023 London ‘Role Model of the Year’ and is nominated for the project’s national award in July. She and her brother Davarel recently represented Levelling the Playing Field at a roundtable session at the Howard League Conference at Oxford University. Both siblings are also part of the Lambeth Young Advisors group, advocating for young people and liaising with local police in discussions around stop and search and youth violence.
Danish and Anuj are inspired on a daily basis by international athletes and renowned coaches at Wolverhampton Wrestling Club. They aspire to be world champions themselves and gain resilience and motivation through the positive ethos of the club, which is situated in a Sikh gurdwara in a hugely ethnically diverse area of the city.
Kasey and Shamza are part of the Peer Action Collective, funded by the Youth Endowment Fund. It’s a movement of 6,500 young people aged 10-25 taking part in youth-led action to end violence by shaping the solutions they want to see in their communities.
Kasey’s progress has now seen him employed by Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme while Shamza is being supported by Bradford City Community Foundation in her ambition to be a police officer.
“We are so proud of these young leaders from across the Levelling the Playing Field network,” said Justin. “They have all benefited from sport and physical activity and developed resilience and ambition in ways that the youth justice system can learn so much from.”