Pupils have been playing basketball at the Sheffield Sharks’ training ground to help combat cycles of bad behaviour.
The Sharks have launched their ‘Respect’ project, in association with medical imaging experts Canon Medical Systems UK, to focus on improving the opportunities for young people.
The aim of the project is to help youngsters break away from a cycle of disadvantage, giving them confidence in their education.
Working with Sheffield City Council, the professional basketball team are providing an outreach programme with schools that includes a full time teacher and classroom at their training ground.
Sarah Backovic, Managing Director at Sheffield Sharks, said: “Through the culture of basketball and the team spirit it encourages, we can help give people beliefs in what they can achieve.
“In our Respect project we teach them that education and academic qualifications are vital, that health and wellbeing in the areas of food nutrition and online safety are key; and that sport can lift spirits and channel energy in a positive direction.”
The scheme was set up in response to the news that secondary school exclusion rates in Sheffield are among some of the highest in the country, according to official figures from Ofsted.
Under the project, which aims to prevent youngsters from being at risk of exclusion when they reach secondary school, 50 to 60 children between the ages of 9 and 11, were taken to The Sharks’ training ground each week.
Once there, they were provided a focused learning environment. Pupils have gained City and Guild qualifications, and also found new philosophies about teamwork and community by playing basketball and cheerleading.
In addition to exclusion education, the Canon Medical Systems team and the Sheffield Sharks will work together to provide workshops for schools to educate pupils on respect issues such as cyber-bullying, bullying, health and fitness.
Ian Watson, Commercial Solutions Director at Canon Medical Systems UK, said: “Respect is important in all areas of our lives – it helps us aspire, it makes us friends and is a basic life skill. If we can play a part in changing the lives of young people and breaking the cycles that they are sometimes born into, we can feel satisfied.”