Twenty-one talented young women from Chestnut Grove Academy in Wandsworth are celebrating their graduation from an innovative youth intervention programme, which uses the power of sport to build aspiration and self-belief.
Wandsworth Council's cabinet members for skills, Cllr Kim Caddy, visited the school this week to meet the girls, coaches and teachers involved and praised their "inspiring achievements".
The graduates, all local residents aged between 14 and 15, have taken part in a three month Street Elite Academy programme run by qualified sports coaches and mentors from the Change Foundation; with support from the Berkeley Foundation.
Wandsworth Council's youth service works with local schools and parents to identify promising young people who could benefit most from this intensive programme, focusing on those at risk of falling out of education or in need of fresh inspiration to get back on track.
Cllr Caddy said: "It's inspiring to meet these talented young women and hear them talk about their futures with such energy. They have been empowered by their experience with Street Elite and with hard work they will go on to great things.
"I want to express my thanks to all of the team at Chestnut Grove Academy and all the partners who help make this programme happen. This partnership has been operating in the borough since 2013 and has already helped dozens of young people to believe in themselves and set their sights high."
The Raising Standards Leader for Year 10 at Chestnut Grove, Katherine Striesow, said:
"This has been one of the best programmes I have participated in over 18 years of teaching. The course has been inspirational to the students and has helped all of them to improve their confidence, self-belief and self-esteem. The students came into this programme with a wide range of needs including; anxiety, self-doubt, and problems accessing the new GCSE curriculum. Over the past 12 weeks, they have blossomed and shine with their new found confidence."
Wandsworth Street Elite graduate, Erin, said: "I feel much more confident about myself. At the beginning of the course we were asked to write a letter to ourselves that we would then read at the end. I feel that I have addressed all of the concerns I had and am really pleased with my personal development and progress."
A parent of one of the Street Elite graduates said: 'I was talking to my daughter about the course the other night on our way home... She felt it had boosted her confidence and self-esteem, and I think it's probably widened her network too! She doesn't give a lot away normally so I was pleased that she spoke so positively about it."
All 21 of this year's class have successfully completed the course. It was the second Street Elite Academy focused specifically on young women from Wandsworth.
The training sessions have been taking place at Chestnut Grove Academy and are based around team sports, helping to build confidence and teach valuable leadership and team working skills.
Many of the successful graduates have overcome real challenges along the way, gaining a more positive outlook and setting themselves new education and career aspirations for the future.
A separate Street Elite intervention programme for young men and women aged 18-25 living on the edge of gangs and crime has been operating in the borough since 2013. This initiative has helped dozens of young people turn their lives around, with around 79 per cent of those who complete the course moving into education, training or work.
Find out more about local sports facilities on the council's website.
Find out more about Street Elite online.