Premiership Rugby has announced Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Clarke, Sale Sharks’ Callum Walker and Bath Rugby Foundation’s Jordan Wickens as the three finalists for the HITZ Community Impact award supported by Wooden Spoon. This award will be presented at the HITZ Awards on 28 November.
Through the power of rugby, HITZ tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today like crime, mental health challenges and unemployment.
The Community Impact Award is all about the time and commitment given by a HITZ young person through volunteering.
It looks not only at the impact of the young person’s volunteering in the community, but also the impact of the volunteering on the HITZ participant themselves.
HITZ Awards judge Helen Cook from Wooden Spoon admits she was blown away by the diversity of applications for this year’s HITZ Community Impact award.
“It was difficult to separate the applications because you are trying to judge how people have overcome barriers in their life.
“We were looking for the journey the young people had gone through and the significant life changes that had happened for a lot of them.
“A number of stories made it very challenging to pick a winner.”
HITZ Community Impact Award – shortlist
• Jack Clarke – Exeter Chiefs
• Callum Walker – Sale Sharks
• Jordan Wickens – Bath Rugby Foundation
Exeter Chiefs’ Jack Clarke demonstrated his transformation by volunteering to coach at rugby festivals and local football clubs as well as holding down three jobs. He overcame tough personal relationships which had led him into drugs, excessive drinking and mixing with the wrong crowd to become a pillar of everything HITZ stands for.
Sale Sharks’ Callum Walker was shortlisted after securing a work experience placement at an animal care charity twice per week. After a troubled period living in Scotland, HITZ helped Callum find friends after he moved to Salford, improved his confidence and helped him start to build a career in caring for animals.
Jordan Wickens was shortlisted after graduating from volunteering one hour a week to helping disadvantaged people every day as a coach for Bath Rugby Foundation. From the tentative, shy individual who started HITZ, he has become someone that engages with people on a daily basis in a bid to improve their lives.
And Cook believes the programme is making a difference more than ever after seeing the number of success stories this year.
She added: “HITZ fits in with our values very well at Wooden Spoon. We support disabled and disadvantaged children and young people across the UK & Ireland and can see first-hand how the programme makes such a difference.
“When you hear young people’s individual stories in their own words it is clear how HITZ changes a young person’s life.”
This year’s glittering HITZ awards will take place at Barclays HQ on Monday 28 November where participants, mentors and former international rugby stars will gather to celebrate the programme’s achievements.
HITZ is 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 and gives them the skills to get back into education, apprenticeships and employment.