Three teenagers from the HITZ programme have been shortlisted for the HITZ Community Impact award at the inaugural HITZ Awards on 3 December.
As a national partner of HITZ, Wooden Spoon are supporting the award and the charity’s Head of Community Investment Jai Purewal revealed some tough discussions were required to decide who would make the shortlist.
The multi award-winning HITZ programme, delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby, uses rugby to increase young people's resilience, self-reliance and confidence and gives them the skills to get back into education, apprenticeships and employment.
Purewal is impressed by how the HITZ programme has continued to grow from strength to strength.
"HITZ focus on social issues affecting young people across England is very important for Wooden Spoon in our work to improve the lives of children and young people in need across the UK," he said.
"We support a range of different projects, including the HITZ programme and we’re delighted that the national rollout of the programme through the 12 Premiership Rugby clubs has been such a success.
"With so many worthy nominees for the Community Impact award, the judges had some interesting debates about who should make the shortlist and we look forward to sharing the news with the winner at the awards in December."
Purewal and his fellow judges had to choose between three nominees who have all made a significant impact in improving their local community or club.
The Community Impact Award is designed to recognise a HITZ young person who has contributed to the improvement of a community or club, through volunteering and service. The award looks at the impact of the young person’s volunteering in the community, and also the impact of the volunteering on the HITZ participant themselves.
HITZ Awards – Community Impact shortlist
- Ryan Cummings, Leicester Tigers
- Anthony Martin, Worcester Warriors
- Sean Starke, Bath Rugby
Bath Rugby nominee Sean Stark struggled through school with bullying issues but since joining HITZ in February has achieved the highest attendance record to date and volunteered at every opportunity.
During the programme, Sean spent a lot of time assisting Christian sports group Get Sported and since leaving HITZ has continued to volunteer at match days and other Bath Rugby events.
Having faced his own educational and psychological issues through sport, Worcester Warriors nominee Anthony Martin has become one of the most influential people on the programme encouraging other participants to face their issues in the same way. Martin helped HITZ staff to set up and run the Engage for Life scheme.
Keen sportsman Ryan Cummings used his level one coaching qualifications and boundless enthusiasm to run HITZ outreach sessions at local colleges, despite often having to travel a long distance.
Cummings, who is now enrolled on Brooksby Melton College’s Level 3 BTEC course run alongside Leicester Tigers Academy of Sports course, also took a lead role in planning a national HITZ Rugby touch rugby tournament prior to the London Double Header.
These are just a few of the stories from the 3,000 young people who the Premiership Rugby clubs work with through HITZ every year.
Colin Cliff, Senior Curriculum Manager at The Challenge Network who was also a judge for this award believes every HITZ participant has a lot to learn from rugby’s core values.
"I’m really impressed by the programme and the journey the nominees have been on, using rugby to turn their lives around and am privileged to be able to recognise their achievements," he said.
"Rugby is a massive leveller and has strong transferable skills including leadership and support of others. Using the sport is a natural way to engage young people and HITZ has obviously achieved that."
The award winning HITZ programme tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today – unemployment, crime and disillusionment. Delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon, HITZ uses rugby to increase young people's resilience, self-reliance and confidence. It gives them the skills to get back into education, vocational training, apprenticeships and employment. Please visit hitzrugby.com to find out more.
The HITZ Awards will take place on Wednesday, 3 December.