Leeds Rhinos Foundation creating brighter futures through Youth Resilience programme

Young people, particularly those most at-risk, need our support more than ever in these challenging times.

Thanks to funding received from the Youth Endowment Fund, Leeds Rhinos Foundation is now leading the way in creating brighter futures by helping to  prevent vulnerable Year 7 students from being drawn into violent crime through its new COVID-19 Youth Resilience project.

The 12-week scheme, which has been rolled out by the Foundation’s Education team in Wetherby High School and Carr Manor Community School,  includes a bespoke package of mentoring and one-to-one support incorporating behavioural sessions, physical activity and extra educational provision for those students identified as being at high risk of getting involved in potentially dangerous or criminal situations.

Since its launch in November some fantastic work has been carried out on the programme, with participants already beginning to display an increase in their confidence and resilience. Let’s take a look back at what the young people have achieved so far:

Week 1:

The programme kicked off with students taking part in different activities to develop their teamwork and communication skills. From blind-folded drawing to working with Rapidough, attendees were challenges to think about the different ways they can effectively communicate and work together to achieve success, before putting it into action.

Week 2:

Under the theme of ‘Healthy Lifestyles,’ students were tasked with creating their own eatwell guides to good nutrition whilst reflecting on how to use this tool to improve their own eating habits and diets. Sessions also explored calories, with the young people looking at how content differs between foods and the exercise we need to burn these calories off and maintain a healthy weight. Finally, the groups enjoyed the chance to extend their learning beyond the classroom by taking part in physical activity with some fun outdoor circuit training.

Week 3:

There was an unforgettable moment for participants when they received surprise visit from the Coral Challenge Cup trophy, currently held by the Rhinos after their victory in the 2020 Final. Inspired by their encounter with this iconic piece of silverware, the young people got to work on a series of rugby-based activities, including writing a match report, preparing questions for a press conference and playing offside touch rugby games outdoors.

Week 4:

The focus this week was on positive mental wellbeing, with staff delivering engaging workshops to help students understand the importance of looking after their mental, as well as their physical, health. In addition to teaching them useful, positive coping strategies for dealing with the stress and anxiety they may face, the sessions also raised awareness of the various mental health support that is available.

Week 5:

Healthy competition was created through the Desert Island Challenge, with students tasked with working in small teams to design and build a raft that could float in water using basic classroom materials. After taking time to carefully design and construct their rafts, the teams went head to head to test which could hold the most weight and float the longest. As well as testing their teamwork and communication skills, the activity also helped to students realise their creativity and explore ways in which they were able to overcome challenges and reach successful outcomes.

Week 6:

Staff from Herd Farm Activity Centre in Leeds were on hand to lead the group through some fantastic outdoor activities and team-building games. Under the guidance of the expert instructors, students were challenged to work together to complete puzzles, use their resilience in head-to-head relay races using giant wooden feet and showed off their strength and determination in a good old fashion Tug of War. Finally, the groups took part in an archery class, learning how to shoot their bows before competing against each other to see who could hit the bullseye first!

This summer, Leeds Rhinos Foundation was one of 130 organisations to obtain a share of a £6.5m grant pot from the Youth Endowment Fund, which aimed to create targeted intervention schemes to support young people who have being impacted by the huge disruption and stress caused by the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis.

For more information about the Youth Endowment COVID-19 Resilience Programme, please email dane.weatherill@leedsrhinosfoundation.org.