- We ran a holistic boxing programme for rangatahi aged 9 to 18yrs, from a diverse range of backgrounds. Our classes use the disciplines of boxing in a values-based environment to grow physical, emotional, and social well-being. Our vision is to ‘champion young people who contribute to our community’. We follow the Champions programme which has been developed by Billy Graham Youth Foundation (BGYF) which brings together best practice youth development and coaching strategies to promote transformative change for young people. Our classes teach discipline and real-life skills. They encourage fitness, holistic health, and promote our Passport to Success programme (values).
- Te Awamutu has a Q5 social deprivation score, which indicates the high levels of social disadvantage in the community. We want to see our youth break free from these struggles, and boxing is our method for addressing this need. Representatives from our academy are an active part of youth discussions within our town with Police, OT reps, council and others in the area with a youth interest; it has been identified that services responding to the needs of our youth are in high demand and a number of our young people are falling through the cracks. Most of our members register themselves (or via parents) but we also receive referrals from Police, Oranga Tamariki, schools & Family Start. We have a wait list of young people who are hoping to start with us when a spot opens up; our classes are currently at maximum capacity with 182 members. When parents/caregivers fill in the form to go on the wait list they often share with us the reasons they want their kids to be a part of our programme (e.g. anxieties, anger). This kind of feedback, as well as constant conversations within our community, indicate that there is an ongoing need for our boxing academy. Additionally, we work hard to ensure our classes are accessible to all young people (removing transport, cost, clothing barriers). We welcoming any child to join the academy, regardless of whether they can pay $50 in fees per term or not.
- We have scheduled our time so that we are able to offer as many classes as possible. We currently have 13 classes running.
- We have seen an encouraging increase in the number of girls attending our boxing classes. We have gone from running two classes, to running five. The numbers of girls attending has significantly increased and we currently have 51 girls attending regularly.
- In May there was a Development Weekend in Naenae which 10 children attended. Then in August there was another Development Weekend in Ashburton which 20 students attended. At these events, a sense of community and belonging is established. Our youth form meaningful connections which strengthen the atmosphere in the academy.
- There was a girls’ only weekend at Canons Creek in June where the BGYF National Head Coach Harry Otty ran boxing training. There was also an international boxer, Alexis Pritchard, who spoke about her experience in high level sport including attending the Olympic Games. This was hugely inspiring for our rangatahi.
- For the first time we have entered athletes into competitive boxing competitions.
- We have broadened the experiences of many of our young people by enabling them to attend camps (all sponsored). In the last year we have had 7 students attend Outward Bound and 16 students have attended camps in the holidays. These experiences grow resilience, develop their sense of purpose, help them identify strengths and weaknesses, and enhance their relationship building skills.
We pride ourselves in being able to offer continuity to our community. We do this by having a consistent programme and having the same people show up each week to coach our youth. This is one of our greatest assets; the kids know what will happen in classes and this helps them overcome anxieties and difficulties they face. There is always change in their world and based on our experience, anxiety is one of the most widespread struggles our youth face today. In response to this, we offer our youth a place that provides consistency and a safe place for them to come to.
To engage our youth, we make our classes fun and focus on building meaningful connections. As part of this we play games, we greet each other, we talk about and practice our values and we check in with our rangatahi at the start of every class to hear about their lives. This develops strong relationships and a sense of belonging. A focus of our classes is on boxing skills and fitness. As our youth mature, they become increasingly focused on developing their skills and fitness, and these are highly engaging aspects of the classes for them.
Our rangatahi have a great time in our classes. To demonstrate this, we held an evening where whanau joined in with the programme. This encouraged our young people, as their family saw how fit and skilled they were, as well as all the fun they had in our classes.
Our trips away to Development Weekends are significant as some children have never been on a plane before and the whole experience is exciting and special. At these events our young people mix with other children from places they’ve never been and are welcomed by people they’ve never met. It’s a real highlight for most of the children who attend. We make sure that whoever comes to a Development Weekend only pays what they can fundraise; the rest is covered by the academy. This is a unique opportunity for many children, and they feel a great sense of whanaungatanga to be included in this way.
We have had an increased interest in competitive boxing, and we currently have 10 rangatahi training at this level. This is a huge step for these kids, and they are challenged to develop a greater inner strength and resiliency in the process.
We have received feedback from our community (both our members and their whanau) which reflects the positive achievements and impact our academy is having in the community. Here is an example of a comment from a parent: "What a brilliant setup/operation you guys are running. It's one of the most positive and encouraging environments I've seen in my 20 years of parenting. I love the underlying teaching of resilience, respect of self and others, understanding what it is to be nice/good person, cemented with hard work and sweat.”
Here are some comments given by members and their whanau when asked what they enjoy the most about the boxing classes: “The wairua that all the coaches, student and kids bring to the academy. It is a safe environment to be in and I know I’m not the only person who loves going there.” “The great team around me. The challenges and support and values that my team teach.” “Learning new things in every class. Becoming more confident even just by a little bit after each class. Seeing and achieving abilities I didn’t see possible. The atmosphere being hard working, fun, and friendly coaches/boxers. Just a great feeling when you attend TABA.” “Learning new skills, pushing myself with the fitness, my coaches, new friends, learning the values, having my own locker and gloves to use is awesome. I love boxing! Everyone is so friendly too.” “Competition. The coaches pushing me to be the best.”
- Commitment to Youth Engagement