Photo credit: The Academy
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“It doesn’t matter where you started.”
This phrase means something special to the members of CrossFit Plan in Worcester, England. Words have become part of the philosophy of The Academy, a member-run program that uses CrossFit as a building block to provide educational and professional opportunities for disadvantaged adolescents.
The Academy is a 16-week sports and lifestyle educational course for 16-19 year olds who are or have been in the health care system. (In Worcester this means a child living with a foster family, with a designated parent, in a foster home, or independently.) Using CrossFit as a base, it is designed to introduce students to sports and fitness, while developing life skills and personal skills. growth and providing opportunities for higher education and skills development.
In England, at the age of 16, students take their General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) exams, single subject tests that unlock access to higher levels of education. However, adolescents who take the Academy course often fall outside the traditional English education system and are not on track to complete their GCSE, explained Hannah Davies, the organization’s director.
Eight teenagers are currently taking the Academy’s inaugural course, launched at the end of July. Some of them, while able to earn GCSEs, live in environments where they won’t score high enough to continue their education, Davies explained. Others, because of their past and their needs, have left school and are already receiving their education through alternative methods. Others still jumped straight into the workforce without completing their studies.
This is where Davies and his team come in: the Academy course counts for ASDAN credit, the professional equivalent of a GCSE.
Upon completion of the 16-week CrossFit-focused course, students will earn a total of 30 hours, or three credits, towards certificates that replace the GCSE exam or provide UCAS tariff points, required for entry to some colleges. and universities.
ASDAN credit can be used differently by each student in the Academy. Some, in the process of passing their GSCE, will take it to college or university. Others will use credit for personal development and can use it to find jobs and apprenticeships. And still others are already enrolled in ASDAN courses and can use the Academy to provide their education.
CrossFit as education
The Academy runs two-hour classes on Saturdays, incorporating soft skills taught by CrossFit and short wellness-focused lectures – what the team calls “TED Talks” – with ASDAN-compliant modules.
Their physical program is based on the skills needed to achieve CrossFit L1 certification, explained Chris Flanders, the organization’s CrossFit programmer. Like the average CrossFit class, students start with some skill and strength before applying the movement learned in a workout.
A practice session: To meet the requirements of ASDAN, the Academy must provide a comprehensive portfolio of skills acquired, challenges faced and activities carried out.
For example, in week three, The Academy takes on the press. After the strength part and training, students sit down with the Academy team for a “TED Talk” focusing on sleep, smoking and water, before covering the required modules of the course. ASDAN sport.
“(These children) weren’t in school; the formality of a classroom did not work for these people.
At the end of the lesson, each student writes down what they have learned, the purpose of the lesson, and the challenges they have faced. This gives ASDAN proof that every child is learning soft skills, like teamwork, as well as English and math.
“We give them information in a different setting,” Davies said. “(These children) weren’t in school; the formality of a classroom did not work for these people.
“It’s those kinds of things, unfortunately they are not necessarily exposed,” she continued, such as the discussions focused on well-being and education-based skills learning. “It’s a cultural deprivation. If you’ve never been to an art museum, how do you know it exists?
Next step: L1 and become ready for employment
After completing their 16-week ASDAN and CrossFit course, participants move on to the second part of their journey, the L1 seminar, what Davies called “a way to better understand their skills.”
“Imagine an end-of-year test that you are preparing, even if their accreditations do not depend on L1. It is also a good way for the student to feel a sense of competition in this part of their journey, but for many of them (this will be the) first time that they have tested themselves, ”said Davies, adding that she expects six of the current eight students to be L1 ready.
In light of this, the L1 testing section, while still in development, will be billed as another session with “cool guest coaches,” she explained.
(The Academy has logged in to the CrossFit scholarship program and anticipates that the L1 will be led by Chuck Carswell and the US Seminary staff team when the flight restrictions are lifted.)
“If our students knew (about the test), considering the negative impact mainstream education has had on them, they would feel so overwhelmed or just wouldn’t show up,” Davies explained.
The third part of the 16 week trip is a career fair. The goal is to end the salon with a complete CV, bringing together the skills taught by CrossFit and the sports course into one professional document.
“A lot of them don’t recognize their own skills,” Flanders said. “We are talking about what you did in a classroom: you have demonstrated that you have the ability to organize yourself… you have demonstrated time management skills, [and] problem solving.”
“It’s that kind of self-enforcement,” he continued. “What does an employer want? They want someone who can show up on time and who can try things out. We give them the proof… They arrived, they worked hard and we can be their reference.
Post-job fair stages are still in development, but Davies said he plans to invite interested graduates of the 16-week course to continue their training in the industry as part of a program. one month internship or apprenticeship, supported by the government.
The big picture
With eight weeks remaining in the inaugural course, Davies and Flanders agree: the program is already becoming much more than just CrossFit.
In just two months, they saw changes in attitude and a willingness to accept challenges, as they saw these young adults begin to make conscious efforts to change their lifestyle.
“We can talk about education, we can talk about (sport),” Davies said. “But if (someone) quits smoking, it’s a long-term life choice that (they) will reap significant benefits from, and that’s because they came here and want to do better here. “