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Troubled teens are saved by the bell at new educational boxing gym in Walsall

Troubled and struggling teens are being invited to join a new boxing that teaches aggression management alongside English and maths.

Coach: Macauley Owen, Harry Moore 16, coach: Gareth Gardner, coach: Reiss Taylor, Jay Hall 16, Riley Higgs 16, Archie Kavanagh 16. Cameron Willetts 16
Coach: Macauley Owen, Harry Moore 16, coach: Gareth Gardner, coach: Reiss Taylor, Jay Hall 16, Riley Higgs 16, Archie Kavanagh 16. Cameron Willetts 16

Bright Star Boxing Academy, which works with local authorities, schools and community programmes, opened a gym on Stafford Road, Walsall, to help struggling teens understand their anger.

The initiative, started by Joe Lockley and Stuart Ferguson, started as a regular boxing gym but was developed to teach teenagers anger management skills, maths and English and other educational skills.

Coaches Reiss Taylor, Macauley Owen and Gareth Gardiner with youths: Cameron Willetts, 16; Riley Higgs, 16; Harry Moore, 16; Jay Hall, 16; Archie Kavanagh, 16

Joe Lockley, director at Bright Star, said: "Our team has been running the programme across numerous areas in the West Midlands, and it's honestly worked so well, we have created a real surge for this type of project in other areas.

"This is primarily for those kids who have been through traumatic experiences or who are struggling in education, if a young person is struggling in life, we work with them in the week and help them to manage their emotions, we use boxing education and mentoring to help teach life skills."

The boxing gym's newest Walsall location was created with the help of Walsall Council, as a way to help struggling or disadvantaged young people in the area overcome adversity.

On the ropes: Archie Kavanagh, 16, from Wolves

Mr Lockley continued: "Our mission is to empower young people to thrive, Walsall is a massive area for us because of its history of exploitation and the level of poverty present.

"We know there is a bit of a violence issue in the area recently, we want to meet the needs of these kids before they end up committing these acts of violence or join gangs, we want to be role models for these young adults."

The gym has several locations based around the West Midlands, with gyms in Walsall, Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford.

Cameron Willetts, from Walsall, and Riley Higgs from Cannock, both 16

The gym director continued: "There has certainly been a rise in the need for these types of initiatives, we have spoken on the world stage about this project, it's a really unique way that sports development can work to help young people.

"We are really excited about the future, we are looking to spread around the entire West Midlands, especially in the areas we are needed most. In September 2024 we are hoping to spread even wider into the West Midlands."

The group is now also looking to upskill other sports organisations to run their own sports development programmes, asking for council help to achieve their goals.

Mr Lockley said: "We are trying to get the local authorities on board, from September onwards we will have a fantastic working relationship with Walsall Council, and we are looking for more authorities to get involved with this fantastic initiative."

More information on Bright Star can be found on the organisation's website

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