Half-term holidays aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be. They’re not long enough for youngsters to properly switch off from school, especially as they get older and face the prospect of exams looming, nor long enough – you might think – to pack in much excitement.
Yet that wasn’t the case recently for local youngster David (left in picture), who had an unforgettable half term with three days of activities and valuable learning experiences that kept him fully occupied, all thanks to our Positive Futures programme.
Arsenal in the Community have worked closely with Islington Council to deliver Positive Futures for the past 19 years by providing a wide range of initiatives on Islington estates. We deliver weekly football sessions across several sites in the borough that aim to provide a safe space for young people outside of school hours. From our side, we aim to build strong relationships with the participants through football and then support them off the pitch through personal development opportunities such as workshops, employment and positive experiences.
Many of the young people take part in the sessions for a number of years – and this long-term approach to engagement allows us to have an impact on these youngsters over a prolonged period of time.
David has been a participant on the programme for the past three years and during the October half term had a busy week taking part in a mix of activities. As a member of Positive Futures, an initiative in partnership with Islington Housing, David had the opportunity to partake in a diverse range of programmes right within local estates. These programmes included youth engagement football sessions that went beyond the pitch by offering additional activities such as trips, educational workshops, supportive homework clubs and rewarding volunteer placements.
On the very first day of his half-term break, David took part in a workshop organised by The Ben Kinsella Trust, set up in honour of a young man who died 15 years ago in a knife attack in Islington at the age of 16. The Ben Kinsella Trust is a prominent anti-knife crime charity dedicated to campaigning to put an end toagainst knife crime, educating young individuals and diverting people from youth violence. It is also a charity partner of the Arsenal and adidas No More Red initiative.
“The workshop itself has had a lasting impact on me,” David reflects. “It served as a reminder not to take life for granted; anyone’s life can be tragically cut short, as was the case with Ben Kinsella. The workshop, particularly the segment dedicated to understanding knife crime, was highly engaging. I’m genuinely grateful for the opportunity to participate.”
The following day, David participated in a Premier League Kicks Tournament at Market Road. Kicks is a Premier League-funded community programme that uses the power of football and sport to inspire young people in high-need areas across the country.
“The tournament was a blast, and our team played exceptionally well, making it to the final. Unfortunately, we narrowly missed out on victory,” says David.
To wrap up the week, David journeyed to London Colney for a training session led by Arsenal Under-18 players including Ismeal Kabia, Romari Forde, Kamarni Ryan, Brian Okonkwo and Coby Small. Visits to the Arsenal Training Centre are rare opportunities, and David felt privileged to play alongside other youngsters in front of the Academy players.
“I’m grateful to have been able to go to Arsenal’s training ground and play there – I know it’s a place where not many people go to,” David says.
“The Arsenal Academy players were great and were well up for it, which was amazing. Getting a few tips from them was quality.
“Building friendships along the way makes the experience even more rewarding. I aspire to continue taking part in activities like this and fostering new connections.”
Keep it up, David. You never know where it might lead next.
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