A boxing project to help young people build better relationships with police, get into sport and improve mental wellbeing has launched in Deptford.
Year 9 students from Deptford Green School on Edward Street are being given six weeks of boxing training from Met police officers, alongside classroom based conversations about issues important to the students.
Topics covered in the discussion include interaction with the police, stop and search and knife crime concerns, mental wellbeing, first aid and how to make the right life choices.
Christopher Devine, 13, who is a student at the school said the project had helped him with his mental wellbeing and behaviour.
He said: “I learned a better stance and punches. I learned to not be nervous around people anymore, and that I don’t need to worry about as much stuff.
“I’m not as scared of things anymore. I have more confidence.
“My behaviour has got better, because I’ve released the stress. I’ve been releasing stuff, like my anger.”
As part of the classroom discussion, officers give young people scenarios to deal with to show them the difficulties police face in making the right decisions.
The police aim to build rapport and better relationships with the young people, and learn from the young people and get a better understanding of how they wish to be treated.
In addition to improving police relations, the project aims to give students, especially those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, the opportunity to get into boxing.
Although student Kimario Gilbert, 13, had done kick-boxing when he was younger, it was his first time in a boxing lesson.
After the six week project, he said boxing is something he might continue in the future.
He said: “I was excited about starting. The boxing was fun.
“I learned how to stand in a boxing stance properly and throw punches properly. I found it easier to focus. It helped me to breathe and have fun.”
The Met Police Taskforce are working with one class over each six-week term.
The final session of each course takes place at Double Jab boxing gym, which is next door to the school and students are encouraged to continue with the sport.
By the end of the year all 180 students from the year group will have gone through the project.
Inspector Chris Bright, who helped organise the project, said: “It’s amazing to see in such a short period of time the breaking down of barriers and building of trust.
“We hope that it will continue into each year group across the school.”
Pictured top: Christopher Devine and Kimario Gilbert
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