D-Sport diversionary programme in St Helens

A group of St Helens teenagers has attended the first session in a free six-week sports programme that has been funded by Operation Target, Merseyside Police’s force-wide operation to tackle serious and violent crime.

Delivered with the support of Active St Helens and the Saints Community Development Foundation, the D-Sport diversionary programme will run at Queens Park Health & Fitness each Thursday between 3:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. through to Thursday 28 March.

Participants at the first D-Sport session playing basketball

The first session on Thursday 22 February was well attended and Morrisons supermarket pitched in with free refreshments for the young participants. Activities during the programme include mini-games, circuit training, arcade games, rugby skills and life classes including basic first aid.

There is still time for 14 to 16-year-olds to book a place at the next session this Thursday (29 February). Those interested in joining the programme should email Mark Hurst, Active Lives and Sports Development Officer at St Helens Borough Council: [email protected]. Participants are in with a chance to win a Go Active membership and tickets to a Saints match (age group 14 to 16).

Inspector Stacey Pope of the Neighbourhood Policing Team at St Helens said: “We’re very pleased to fund the D-Sport programme via the force’s serious violence prevention fund, which is used to provide resources and long-term problem-solving for tackling serious violence.

“We hear some teenagers complain that there isn’t anything to do in the area, and all too often this is whilst dealing with a report of anti-social behaviour or criminal offences. Yet projects like this are regularly being delivered by our community partners so we’d encourage young people to get involved in these initiatives.

“This is a fabulous opportunity for young people in the area to get involved in sports and learn some valuable life skills that could make all the difference in an emergency, such as ringing 999 and basic first aid.”

Participants at the first D-Sport session playing arcade gamesCouncillor Anthony Burns, St Helens Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Wellbeing, Culture and Heritage, said: “With this collaborative project we’ve been able to work with partners in specific communities to deliver a programme of activities which will increase physical activity, teach valuable life skills and promote positive experiences for young people in the area.

“Engagement with our young people has also helped to shape the activities on offer, the delivery of which is a key action in our Active Lives Strategy, providing children and young people with opportunities to build resilience, confidence and improve their health and wellbeing.”

Steve Leonard, Director of the Saints Community Development Foundation, said: “The Foundation is happy to assist Merseyside Police with giving our young people some out-of-school activities and alternatives within these sessions, delivering messages that can help the children and young adults make better choices going forward. We will work tirelessly with all our partners to help give our children and young people the best guidance to help them make better choices in life.”