By communitysaints, 05-Apr-2013 09:05:00
Last summer St. Helens R.F.C. played host to The Sutton Academy’s Summer School Transition Project. The ground breaking initiative will again be in place for 2013. Here you can read an indepth report on the project from Danielle Griffiths.
The teachers of Sutton Academy and the coaches at Saints R.F.C. have joined forces and created a unique schooling project which has been designed for young students in the transition of moving from primary school to senior school. With a key focus on literacy and numeracy development, these children have had the chance to become familiar with senior level subjects, more importantly they have developed life and social skills that will aid them during the coming years.
On a personal note, with a wanting knowledge of rugby in general, one thing that struck me during my time with the summer school was seeing how strong a focal point the Saints team is within the community. I draw attention to this in an attempt to communicate a sense of how much it meant for a group of local children to then have the chance to visit the ground of their team and idols, for the duration of the summer school. I found it genuinely moving to observe the double sided support from the fans for their team and likewise from Saints R.F.C. for their community.
If you cast your mind back it may not be hard for you to remember your very first day of high school; for myself, I remember sitting amongst a crowd of unfamiliar faces and feeling out of place in my cardboard stiff school blazer. Unlike myself, the children who have participated in the Transition Project will feel comforted in the thought that on their first day at high school, they will be greeted by the friends which they have made over the summer.
Mr Andrew Mainey of the Science department commented, “You usually spend the first three weeks of high school in a daze. But with projects like this, it gives the children a vital chance to become familiar with some new faces; both the other students and the teachers that will be teaching them throughout the next five years.”
Giving the children a chance to network and make new friends is a key highlight of this project, along with the fact that it has also bridged gaps throughout the community by bringing children from various areas of Saint Helens together and building a relationship between St Helens R.F.C. and The Sutton Academy.
For this youth project, strategies for the development of life and social skills were incorporated into all of the exercises that were delivered to the children. An array of activities provided plenty of opportunities to let their imaginations run wild, get their hands sticky with arts and crafts lessons and create friendships during team building tasks.
Creativity was hugely encouraged which usually resulted in many colourful and inspired ideas; one of which was a daredevil design of a rollercoaster, ‘The Teeth Knocker-Outer-Er’ constructed out of dry spaghetti pasta and blue tack! It was through team building exercises like these that the children learnt how to work with one another and how to put their own ideas forward and developed problem solving skills.
A variety of word games enabled the children to utilise and develop their understanding of vocabulary, punctuation and literacy features, they even exercised their debate skills during an entertaining celebrity contest of The Hot Air Balloon Challenge. The children learnt in depth study focusing on science with time and distance measurements, they also became familiar with aspects of shapes and symmetry; all subjects which they will study from year 7 onwards. The children gained a deeper knowledge of numeracy through a range of mathematical games, one of which was The Sutton Academy’s own rendition of Bruce’s ‘Play Your Cards Right,’ which served to educate the children on mathematical calculations and probability, along with a musical chorus of, ‘Nice to see you, to see you [all] NICE!’ All of these exercises not only kept the children’s young minds fully engaged and absorbed in their tasks, but also had them solving complex equations without them even realising it.
In keeping with the Olympic 2012 atmosphere, the children enjoyed an energetic science lesson delivered by Mr Mainey where they competed in a Rocket Science Tournament. A challenge was divided between five continents to construct a rocket and make a calculated estimate of how much H20 would be needed, in order for their rocket to reach the greatest distance once filled with o2, by the highly technical use of a car pump. Once all team discussions, compromises and strategies had been decided everyone took to the car park; eyes alight with anticipation and teeth chattering in the cold. The first two teams were off to a triumphant start but it was not long before disaster struck; during Team Australia’s ‘pump-up,’ when a blue Peugeot casually wandered into the car park, despite Gordon Pennington’s, Director at St. Helens R.F.C. circulated email warning staff not to enter the vicinity on that particular morning. Even with Mr Mainey’s quick reactions and best efforts to halt the launch of the rocket -that had already been amply pumped with o2- it took off into the air with force and shot across the car park, towards the slowing car and its driver, who no doubt could see the fast approaching missile headed straight for his windscreen. Luckily, the cold Northern wind suddenly blew and swerved the rocket to the left of the car, just. “Opps a daisy...” came the jovial voice of Mr Mainey; summing up the near catastrophe.* As the results were counted and verified it was conclusive that Team America were our Gold winners. Team Europe took Silver and Team Asia took home Bronze.
*St. Helen’s R.F.C would like to note that no car windows, passengers or pedestrians were injured or targeted during this learning activity.
The Saints coaches introduced the children to a variety of physical fitness training and sports where they developed their hand and eye coordination, their strength, stamina, alignment and observational skills. The girls participated in cheerleading and the boys learnt the foundations of rugby, except on one spontaneous ‘switch’ afternoon when the girls took to the field and the boys tried their hands – and their hips – at some break dancing. Encouraging the children to try different games helped to introduce them to sports they originally may never have thought they would have enjoyed. A future Sutton sports star, Tasha Prescott commented,
“I’ve really enjoyed the multi-sports with the Saints coaches, because it’s given me the chance to play rugby. It’s fun because you get to do different sports every day, I like being active.”
With the involvement of St. Helens R.F.C. the children were especially lucky, as on one particularly exciting Monday morning they had the grand opportunity of meeting HRH the Duke of Kent, who visited the new home of St. Helens R.F.C. and observed the summer school in progress.
They also had the chance to perform during the Saints V Huddersfield game in front of a crowd of 14,000 people. The girls performed their cheerleading routine at the beginning of the match where they commanded the full attention of everyone in the stands; shimmering their black and silver pom poms and roaring their Saints chant.
At half time the boys engaged in an impressive game of rugby, putting the training they had learnt in the past week to effective use, showing the Jonny Lomax’s of the future running up and down the pitch, doing their Coaches and parents especially proud. Coach Kerry praised the girls on their cheerleading performance,
“They did an amazing job! Especially after such a short period of time! They really impressed me, their commitment has been outstanding.”
On one of the final days of the summer school the teachers and coaches organised a trip for the children to Formby beach. Led by our very own Drill Sergeant Gordon Pennington for the day, we enjoyed a rigorous trek through the pine wood wilderness; navigating our way through overgrown hedges and over thick tree roots, pine needles and sticks. Drill Sergeant Gordon led by example; sprinting up the first steep sand dune and instructing everyone to follow suit in their teams with a roar from the top. It was a gratifying experience for both the teachers and coaches to see the children utilising the skills which they had developed over the past two weeks; cheering one another on and at times physically pulling and pushing each other up each ascent and over every sand dune.
The training exercises the children engaged in with their friends awarded them the realisation of what they can achieve whey they work together, what a friend can be for them and what kind of friend they can be in return. For some, the trip to Formby beach was the first time that they had seen the sea, on first gaining sight of the near tide, Piper Unsworth excitedly asked Mr Hughes if she could touch the water and took off at a sprint. Many of the children had never been abroad, therefore trips like this opened their minds and gave them a chance to see a different part of the world which they live in.
The last day close with a presentation awarding pupils with certificates and for some particular students, awards were given in special recognition for outstanding achievements. On a final note, Gordon Pennington reminded the children of the incredible heights they had all climbed during the past two weeks, not only the physical ones but the personal and mental heights as well. He reminded the group that they set their own limits and if there is anything they should take away with them; it is the belief that there is nothing they cannot achieve, when they each put their minds to it. With one last bellowing chant of “Red and White let’s go!” the summer school came to an end.
Throughout the two weeks I observed the sincere enthusiasm, genuine need to please and eagerness to do well that usually fills classrooms. The Transition Project has successfully served to mentally prepare the children for the years ahead and has vitally inspired their studying efforts; ensuring that they aim high and work hard; reassured that school will be a safe place of learning and equal opportunities for them. It has brought to light the knowledge that there are endless possibilities within their grasp and that they are capable of achieving so much.
Despite the summer school coming to an end, I am sure that the lessons learnt, those of perseverance, commitment, dedication and team work, will continue to be a part of each child and will aid them in their efforts not only at The Sutton Academy, but in their mind set for the rest of their lives. Too many students pass through school never reaching or realising their full potential, I cannot stress enough just how important it is for children to have dreams and goals for themselves. Hopefully, the children take this enlightened outlook that they gained whilst standing at the top of those sand dunes with them back home, along with a little sand in their shoes and socks.
By communitysaints, 07-Dec-2012 11:50:00
ONE of the biggest community education projects in British sport has hit a new landmark.
The award winning Saints Smart School has welcomed 1,000 students through the Langtree Park doors - with more than 10,000 young Saints fans taking part since its inception.
More than 30 primary schools have now visited Langtree Park to take part in educational projects with Saints Community Development Foundation and they've been quick to praise the impact on their pupils.
Saints Smart School was one of the first Super League Education programmes when it was launched in 1996. Players such as James Roby, Lee Gaskell and Gary Wheeler have taken part in the day as youngsters.
Now, thanks to support from Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Trust, Saints Smart School also uses the ‘power of sport' to promote positive lifestyle choices.
The experience includes a stadium tour, Rugby League coaching, Heritage sessions.
If your school would like to attend then call 01744 455074 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
By communitysaints, 24-Oct-2012 11:26:00
BOOTS has shown off his moves in a remake of the dance hit Gangnam Style.
The loveable mascot is hoping to encourage more people to get involved in cheerleading and dance in the community with his own Langtree Park version of the worldwide phenomenon.
The global hit by South Korean artist PSY has gone viral recently with more than 530 million views online and Saints Community Development Foundation hope the version by mascot Boots will also prove popular.
Young people aged from 5 to 18 years old train in cheer and dance regularly in St Helens and compete in both regional and national competitions. Saints Community Development Foundation now works with schools, college and teams to offer cheer and street dance coaching.
Nicola Penketh, of SCDF and The Sutton Academy said: “Boots has got some great moves! Hopefully the video will inspire more people to get involved in cheer and dance regardless of their age or gender. One of the most rewarding sessions I’ve been involved in recently has been for mums and dads who have little or no experience in dance.”
“Cheerleading and dance is very popular in the North West and we’ve some fantastic teams to be proud of right here in St Helens. SCDF aim to offer all people the opportunity to learn new and exciting skills in cheerleading and streetdance and also give those young people the opportunity to showcase their talents at events.”
If you are interesting in cheerleading and dance in Merseyside then e-mail email@example.com or visit www.communitysaints.com for more information.
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