Positive Life Pathways is a project being delivered by the Highland Wildcats through funding achieved by the Inverness Blitz. The project is supported by The Robertson Trust, Deprived Area Fund, Foundation Scotland, the Carpet Emporium, Castle Security, sportsmatch and Common Good Fund.
The Project, which started in September 2013, aims to use American football as an innovative way to engage young people in a positive activity. The full time Youth Development Officer will work with schools to speficially identify young people aged between 14 and 18 from areas within Inverness scoring highly on the SIMD; that are at risk of being excluded from school; experiencing social isolation; perhaps not going towards a positive destination; in a poor state of health; or lacking confidence, direction and drive: and attempt to use the “lifestyle” of American football to help them work to change their lives in a positive way.
Training and competing in American football increases young people’s confidence by giving them the opportunity to work as part of a team, develop leadership skills, take pride in their achievements, build character and learn fair play. Playing American football requires a certain level of conditioning and therefore all participants learn about nutrition / healthy eating and get into good training habits which all leads to a healthy and more active lifestyle. The young people will be given lots of opportunities to develop their own sessions and small projects whether it be them actually playing or training themselves / team mates; taking the lead in coaching younger children; or even organising their own event. This experience and taking responsibility, coupled with training opportunities and our links with a range of local and statutory agencies will help our young people through certain life transitions; prepare them for getting a job and even thinking big and starting their own business.
As well as working directly with the 14 – 18 age group, the development officer is also be tasked with:
- Setting up and running Flag Football sessions and programmes in local primary schools. This will provide volunteering opportunities for the 14 – 18 group but also increase participation in the sport for younger children and perhaps help to identify “at risk” children earlier for future years of the project.
- Run events that will recognise and reward the efforts of young people in both playing American Football and also volunteering in the sports and helping others.
- Ensure there is a quality Youth Highland Wildcats performance level set up to give opportunities and a pathway for young people that want to progress with the sport to a higher level to reach their full potential (strength and conditioning sessions, expert workshops, regular practices, quality coaching staff, safe equipment and facilities)
The Highland Academy Community League is also tied into this project and serves as a great tool to get young people involved in not just playing but perhaps media, game day volunteering, stats, website updates and game reports.