Yesterday the chair of the APPG for Boxing, Charlotte Leslie MP, visited the Fight for Peace Academy in Newham to hear about its successful strategy for engaging young people in communities affected by crime and violence.
Fight for Peace was established in the favelas (shantytowns) of Rio de Jinero in 2000 by Luke Dowdney MBE. Since then the organisation has developed its ‘Five Pillars’ methodology, which combines boxing and martial arts with education and personal development courses, and this approach is now being shared with organisations across the world. “After ten years we are now in a position to share what we do,” said James Baderman, who leads the Global Aulmni Programme. “We’ve trained nine organisations in eight countries, including Kenya, Costa Rica and Los Angeles.”
Since its establishment in November 2007, the Academy in East London has grown to offer a range of activities and programmes to members aged between 14 and 23 including boxing, Muay Thai, capoeira, karate and gym sessions as well as nationally recognised education courses, one-to-one mentoring, job training and other support services for young people. In 2011 750 young people came through the doors of the Academy, over half of which were newcomers.
The visit provided an opportunity to speak to some of the Academy’s members. A member of Youth Council, Michael, referred to the structure of Fight for Peace as a major strength, highlighting that it was run by young people, for young people. Another member, Layla, said this ethos continues in the gym, with all standards of competitor training together. Reference was also made to the role of coaches as mentors, for whom the wellbeing of members is the first priority.
The Pathways Education to Employment Project was discussed at length. The project, developed over four years, offers the training and specialised support required for young people to successfully access the job market. In 2011 a total of 26 learners completed two Modules (the equivalent of 8 GCSEs), with the large majority progressing into employment.
Further details about the achievements of Fight for Peace can be read in their Annual Report, which can be downloaded here.