Northern Ireland Judo’s Kookateki Judo Club and youth organisation MACS recently teamed up to run a judo programme for young people who have had a challenging start to life. The aim of the programme is to encourage and develop positive attitudes and behaviours in young people in the area.
The club’s initiative is designed to bridge the gap between starting judo as a total novice, giving the young people time to build confidence and providing them with a new opportunity to create lifelong sporting habits.
By helping young people take the step into community sport, Kookateki hope to improve their health, wellbeing and lifestyle whilst having some fun in the process.
The idea came from club volunteer Stephen Picton whose wife Yvonne works as a Housing Manager for MACS. Stephen saw that participation in a sport like judo could give opportunities to young people to stand on their own two feet. Senior club coach Jonathan Cooke runs the sessions with the help of Stephen and Scott Irvine, a MACS project worker.
Kookateki hope the project will grow gradually to provide choice and opportunity for young people as well as a stepping stone into regular judo participation.
The catch phrase of “working with young people who have not had a fair deal” was vocalised by their young people who clearly articulated that they did not want to be described as vulnerable or at risk but came up themselves with the more poignant term of not “having a fair deal in life”.
MACS was set up in 1990 to provide accommodation for young people making the transition from children’s homes to independent living. In 1996 they broadened their remit to include aftercare accommodation for care leavers and the young and homeless, linking young people to volunteer mentors and supporting young people in their own homes. Today MACS work with over 450 young people a year.
MACS philosophy of interdependence, valuing young people as experts in their own lives, appreciating the value of risk taking and making mistakes is still evident today after 25 years of activity.
For more information about Kookateki Judo Club visit their website at www.kookatekijudoclub.co.uk.
To find out more about MACS and the work they do visit www.macsni.org.