Olympian helps troubled youths from Sheffield get lives back on track

Young participants in the Get On Track course
Young participants in the Get On Track course
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Troubled youths from Sheffield teamed up with a top athlete as they took on challenges to help get their lives back on track.

Young people who have been involved with gangs in the city or frequently missed school were among those taking part in the Get On Track programme.

Sheffield's lord mayor, Councillor Denise Fox, with participants in the Get On Track project and, far left, Sheffield Futures CEO Gail Gibbons and, fifth from right, former Olympic swimmer James Kirton

Sheffield's lord mayor, Councillor Denise Fox, with participants in the Get On Track project and, far left, Sheffield Futures CEO Gail Gibbons and, fifth from right, former Olympic swimmer James Kirton

They completed tasks including abseiling and pitching ideas to industry leaders during a six-week course, under the guidance of former Great Britain swimmer James Kirton.

One of those involved, whose name cannot be revealed, told how the activities had boosted his confidence and strengthened his desire to help others.

“I had a bad history with crime. A couple of years ago, I started to feel like I wanted to help others," he said.

"It was a bit scary not knowing people you were working with but it was good as well because it built my confidence."

Get On Track is spearheaded by the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust, which works with charity Sheffield Futures, and they celebrated the young people's achievements at a ceremony on November 30.

Barnsley-born swimmer James Kirton, who represented Britain at the 2008 Olympics, is a Sheffield Futures ambassador.

As athlete mentor for the Get On Track participants, he drew on his competitive experience to help them overcome the hurdles they encountered and inspire them to develop the skills needed to achieve their ambitions.

"The skill set that athletes have is very close knitted to working with young people facing disadvantage," he said.

"It's about discovering their strengths and weaknesses. The young people here beforehand had been out of work, getting themselves into trouble and now they're all back in education. What an amazing outcome."

Gail Gibbons, CEO of Sheffield Futures, said the course had equipped the young people involved with the confidence and skills needed to take the next step in their lives.

"They meet new people, build their confidence and most of them move on into training and employment, so it's a really positive outcome," she added.

If you're aged 16-25 and looking for work, training, education or volunteering opportunities, and want to find out if Get on Track could help you, email enquiries@sheffieldfutures.org.uk.