‘We have seen first-hand the impact that the quality of Fight 4 Change can have on our students’
PE Teach and Lead Practitioner at Platanos College, Charlie Paton, spoke to Fight 4 Change about bringing his students from the school based just 1.5 miles away from the Black Prince Community Hub in Stockwell to the launch of the ‘Made by Sport’ campaign with Prince Harry, Nicola Adams OBE and Anthony Joshua OBE and the links between his school and Fight 4 Change.
Fight 4 Change: Tell us why you came to the event today?
Charlie Paton: As a local school we’ve worked with Fight 4 Change for quite a while in partnership and were invited down to make our young people aware not only about the power of sport within school, but within the community.
We wanted to expose our students to another place they can access outside of school and how Fight 4 Change has impacted one of our students in particular. How they have helped create a positive learning environment for him and how they have impacted his education in a new school environment. It’s shows how the combination of Fight 4 Change and sport in general has helped him progress with more focus on his education.
It was important for us to have the students come and see how that is working in practice.
Fight 4 Change: How did you choose the students to come?
Charlie Paton: We have a mixture of students. Those who have represented the PE department very well over time, students whose behaviour has made them role models within their year, young sports leaders and students who we know have a specific interest in martial arts and boxing.
For example, we have one UK Tae Kwon Do champion and others who attend local boxing clubs like Miguel’s Boxing and Fitness Gym in Brixton and Fitzroy Lodge in Lambeth, plus those who have been attending Fight 4 Change boxing sessions here at the Black Prince Community Hub.
Plus, we are working hard to increase push female participation in sport, not just the traditional female sports but sports such as boxing so it was so crucial for us for our students to come and meet someone like Nicola Adams and see that pathway of excellence and the journey they can go on if they work hard and are inspired to do such a thing.
Fight 4 Change: Did they know they would be meeting all these people?
Charlie Paton: We told them early in the morning and it was a mixture of surprise and shock, especially with Prince Harry. They believed AJ and Nicola would be here, but particularly with Prince Harry they were shocked. But they were also excited and inquisitive as well. They were ready to get their questions organised and discussed with each other.
It’s amazing and powerful for them to demonstrate their skills in front of people of that level but to also share that with each other and to take that back to the school and then relay that to the rest of their peers – that this is the kind of experience you get for good behaviour and for being a sport ambassador.
Fight 4 Change: Was there a moment at the launch which made you personally feel proud of your students?
Charlie Paton: There were two defining moments for me. Firstly, how relaxed Anthony, Nicola and Prince Harry were able to make the students and how the responded to that. They had a group discussion for two-three minutes which was the icing on the cake as they were able to demonstrate their boxing skills and were able to have a chat.
Secondly, two of our female students met Nicola Adams, and were able to chat with her about the Olympic Gold medals and her journey. About how she started out – especially with her learning difficulties – and that’s a profound message for a school.
You can’t teach that, it’s such a profound message for our school with our socio-economic background and where we’re situated. That will be huge for us when we go back and talk about that – sharing that with the rest of our school community.
Fight 4 Change: Tell us how important the Black Prince Community Hub is for you? It’s location, facilities and much more?
Charlie Paton: Growing up myself in central London near here it was places like this, youth clubs, that were able to keep me participating in sports.
From our perspective as a PE Department we are working really hard to push our young people and to make them aware of places not only where they can participate in sport, but where they can do positive things instead of, as mentioned today by the athletes, negative things when boredom does come into play and they might get involved with things that shouldn’t get involved with.
It’s about access and that is what this provides and what ‘Made by Sport’ here today is about.
Our students are creating that awareness of where places like this area are. Places like this are crucial not only as an open door; its accessible in the community and financially it’s OK to keep participating.
As a school that doesn’t offer post 16 education, it’s important for our students to understand where places are where they can continue on their sporting journeys – and their life journeys – and that’s huge for us. That’s our gold standard. It’s the full package.
They experience different adults, reliable adults who they may not get access to all the time. It’s experiencing that regularity and continuity of those positive people in their life that will hopefully push them on to lead good lives and be positive citizens within the community, that’s what our PE department is striving for.
Fight 4 Change: Tell us more about your school and its links to Fight 4 Change?
Charlie Paton: I’m one of the managers, in PE, with a big team of staff at the college who are community-based and who have grown up in the area.
We’re hoping to start a boxing academy as just one other aspect of our wonderfully-broad sporting curriculum, curriculum-based and external, extra-curricular. We have the facilities, the coaching staff, expertise and the qualifications we need to start.
That’s one of the things today which we’re hoping to build upon, we want a couple of our students here to be part of that boxing academy. We want to create a lot of participation and we’ve made a big impact on girl’s participation already. Due to our understanding of our community and the students we have, we are aware of the growing gang problem, so this is, as a school, how we want to combat that.
In terms of discipline, a safe place to go, a positive environment to learn in and in promoting our student’s self-esteem, boxing is one of the principle sports and way of doing that.
We’ve had long-standing links with Fight 4 Change and had their coaches come in and do mentoring and boxing classes with girls and that’s set the foundations quite a long time ago, about three years or so.
They’ve come in to deliver in different terms, different times, girls projects, boys projects – all of this really set the foundation for us.
With the quality coaches that Fight 4 Change have, their personalities, and how the young people respond to those we have seen first-hand the impact that boxing can have on our students.
Sometimes it’s important that they see a different positive adult who is not their teacher and who has a different personality with them.
Fight 4 Change and their coaches are very professional, and it’s all run really well. They’re boxing coaches of a very high standard and that is just another aspect of our PE Department and we want to push that on and build on that.
Today is another important brick in building that foundation going forward specifically where our school is in the community, right in Stockwell, and making links with all those community places to make sure that our PE Department is doing a job for our students when they leave us.