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Inspiring individuals from Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Wasps up for HITZ Young Achiever award

Inspiring individuals from Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Wasps up for HITZ Young Achiever award

Inspiring individuals from Leicester Tigers, London Irish and Wasps are up for a prestigious prize after being nominated for the HITZ Young Achiever award, supported by Wooden Spoon.

HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme which, with the help of its funders Land Rover, Wooden Spoon and Comic Relief, works with more than 2,000 14-18 year olds across England every year, and is delivered nationally by England’s 13 professional rugby clubs.

Using rugby’s core values of teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship, HITZ works to get young people not in education, training or employment (NEET) back into education, training, apprenticeships and/or employment, and is delivered nationally by England’s 13 professional rugby clubs.

One of the four gongs on offer is the HITZ Young Achiever Award, supported by Wooden Spoon, recognising a young person who, by overcoming a range of challenges, has worked the hardest to progress on their journey back to education, training or employment. It is someone who has persevered, despite setbacks; grown personally and socially, despite initially lacking confidence; and/or made new friends despite lacking personal/social skills.

The hard task of whittling down the nominees to a final three fell to a group of judges, with Leicester Tigers’ Mitchell Bailey, Eric Harris of London Irish and Wasps’ Carter Moran getting the nod.

Wooden Spoon ambassador David Pointer: “HITZ is a first class programme that works with individuals on all levels of education and support which has been lacking in their past.

“HITZ is really important, these young people are given hope and opportunity when it appears that everyone else has given up on them.”

In the summer of 2017 Mitchell lost a close friend, which affected him greatly. This event was one of the catalysts to him losing his confidence and facing depression, meaning that before joining HITZ he wasn’t sure which route to take, as he didn’t enjoy education yet didn’t feel ready for a job either, leaving him at a dead end.

Thankfully he made the choice to join HITZ and has come on leaps and bounds since starting. He has a new-found belief in himself and his ability to achieve and has also become a role model within the group as he epitomises what the programme is all about.

Eric has ADHD and was severely bullied at school, which often led to him not attending class. He would get angry and blame himself when this happened, leading to constant arguments with his family and him breaking things in frustration, resulting in him not sitting any of his GCSEs.

But since joining the HITZ programme Eric’s attendance is above 90%, he has more confidence in himself, his attitude has improved in the classroom and at home and is a much nicer person to be around.

Finally, Carter was teased and bullied at school due to him being transgender. He was subjected to substantial abuse from his peers which resulted in him missing out on the majority of his secondary school life.

Throughout his time on the programme Carter has overcome numerous challenges and has grown considerably. He has worked tirelessly to achieve his qualifications, build on his leadership skills through volunteering with different organisations within the community, and volunteered in schools as a sports leader coaching on behalf of Coventry Sports Foundation.

“It was extremely tough to separate the nominees, they have all had their own difficult personal journeys and barriers to overcome,” David added. “They all have come through the programme with more knowledge, experience and confidence.

“Through the HITZ programme Megan has overcome severe anxiety and grown her confidence to be and work with other people and her self-belief has transformed. She is now returning to college after dropping out of education and is also talking about going to university in the future.

“Mitchell has overcome huge personal barriers and anxiety to now becoming a role model in his HITZ group. He now has more confidence and is working hard to fulfil his dream of becoming a firefighter.

“Carter has experienced huge personal challenges throughout his life and Gender Dysphoria led to a very difficult schooling which had a negative impact on his confidence and self-esteem. The HITZ programme has changed his life and now, as a HITZ Ambassador, he is a role model and is inspiring other people to change their lives for the better.”

This year’s glittering HITZ Awards will take place at the BT Centre on Wednesday 17 October where participants, mentors and rugby stars past and present will gather to celebrate the programme’s achievements. Follow all the action at @HITZRugby

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