“HITZ saved me from drugs and gangs”: How Premiership Rugby’s Hitz programme changed Jason Kitchin’s life and earned him an apprenticeship helping others
Winning the Young Achiever Award at Premiership Rugby’s renowned HITZ Awards in 2017 was a testament to Jason Kitchin’s significant personal development.
However, if it wasn’t for HITZ, a flagship education and employability programme facilitated by Premiership Rugby, things may have turned out rather differently.
Born in Northampton, then 15-year-old Jason mixed with the wrong crowds, which led to antisocial behaviour through gang involvement and substance abuse.
As a result, opportunities were limited for Jason and subsequently he lacked motivation to change his lifestyle.
However, Jason became aware of Premiership Rugby’s HITZ initiative and was introduced to the Northampton Saints HITZ programme in 2015.
After enjoying participating, Jason decided that his family’s move to Shilton, Coventry wasn’t going to hinder his involvement in HITZ.
Shortly after the move, Jason discovered Wasps’ HITZ programme through their club HITZ Officer, Anthony O’Reilly and continued his development through participating in Wasps’ HITZ offering.
Despite previously having anxiety and low confidence levels, Jason discovered a newfound direction through HITZ due to the programme helping to decrease social issues such as these.
“HITZ has without question changed me to become a better person. I was previously involved in drugs and gangs, causing daily trouble,” said Jason.
“I simply didn’t know where to look next. HITZ guided me towards a more positive and happier life, in which I have discovered a passion to help other people who are in similar situations to what I was in.”
Participating in HITZ meant Jason was exposed to a relaxed environment, which offered essential enrichment and sporting activities.
From racing yachts in Portsmouth, to playing rugby with new friends, HITZ ensured Jason’s social wellbeing developed to a level whereby he could progress under his own independence.
Jason continued: “After two months participating in the programme, I realised the significant impact it was having on me personally.
“I felt confident there were professional opportunities waiting for me, which is now proved by my current apprenticeship as a youth worker.”
With HITZ’s invaluable guidance, Jason secured an apprenticeship in September 2018 with a Youth Work organisation in Coventry.
He now supports young people in their personal, social and educational development to help them reach their full potential in society, primarily working with young people aged 16 years and under in a variety of settings.
“I thoroughly enjoy my apprenticeship because I am passionate about helping young people. HITZ provided me with the platform to discover this passion and I could not be more thankful,” he said.
Jason’s ongoing commitment and dedication in HITZ led to him becoming an ambassador for the award-winning education and employability programme, of which his HITZ Officer, Anthony O’Reilly, strongly advocates.
“Jason fully deserves the success he’s achieved through HITZ. From becoming a HITZ ambassador to winning the 2017 Young Achiever’s Award, it is evident how Jason’s hard work has paid off,” said O’Reilly.
“In order to maximise the impact this fantastic initiative can provide, it is crucial participants are dedicated to its offering and if participants apply themselves, they will experience the benefits.”
Now in its tenth year, Jason is one of over 14,000 people that have engaged with the HITZ programme since its inception in 2008.
It has achieved some incredible results, with nearly nine out of ten participants completing the HITZ Learning Academy and the same figure reporting an improvement in their personal, social and physical wellbeing.
The programme is funded by partners Land Rover, Comic Relief and Wooden Spoon.
For more information on HITZ, visit https://www.premiershiprugby.com/in-the-community/breakthru/hitz/.