Thursday 24th October saw the completion of the Second instalment of ‘CHALLENGE WANDSWORTH’; a community youth training initiative hosted by RMR City of London, supported by Southfields School and a number of military, uniformed service and sports and fitness industry partners.
Challenge Wandsworth comprised of six challenges delivered by the Royal Marines, Harlequins RFC, BeMilitaryFit and Powerleague in cooperation with the Metropolitan Police, the London Fire Brigade and the London Ambulance Service, providing young people struggling to reach their full potential an opportunity to be inspired through sports, martial arts, outdoor pursuits and physical fitness training.
One of the focuses of the event was to engender some respect for uniformed services by showcasing the support the Armed Forces and Public Services provide to them and their communities. Subhan Khan, 14 said: “[I enjoyed] the free drop, [I would say to other kids doing this] heads up for the free drop!” “I would probably join the Royal Marines or the Fire Service…[it interests me because] they go into dangerous stuff and save people’s lives”.
Challenges covered topics such as: nutrition, self-defence, endurance, mental strength and self-esteem, embodying the characteristics of the Royal Marines: Courage, Determination, Unselfishness and Cheerfulness. Inspiration of potential careers within the Armed Forces and Public Services was given to youths from across several schools who attended the event, alongside cadets.
Army Cadet Sergeant Jodie Judge, 17 said: “[its] good that we [girls] have the opportunity to join the Marines…it’s great for inclusivity”.
Another key focus of the event was to divert young people away from anti-social behaviour and towards a more positive trajectory. With knife crime amongst youths in the London area recently becoming a topic of high interest, Challenge Wandsworth aimed to encourage young people on the periphery of youth violence not to carry edge weapons.
Commanding Officer of Royal Marines Reserves City of London Lieutenant Colonel Jason Durup said: “One of the aims [of challenge Wandsworth] is to support the Metropolitan Police’s ‘Divert’ Programme…[by] trying to give them [the youths] the confidence through different skills that they can evade and avoid edge weapon threats and not become a statistic”.
Deputy Headteacher of Southfields Academy Larry Davis, the schools champion for Personal Development, Safety and Welfare said; “it’s really important to give the opportunity for young people to get together and work together with youngsters from other schools…there’s a lot of discussion [between young people] about that they don’t get these opportunities with focus [from the schools] on academic stuff”.
Following a successful pilot of the initiative in February 2019, the event was extended to two days to allow for a capacity of 75 students per day.