Last week found me in the snow covered ‘garden of Kent’. Well less of a garden actually, more of a tarmac covered car park full of marquees and transit vans. Dads and uncles buzzed about tinkering with petrol engines whilst their sons and nephews dressed in their leather all in ones and protective helmets looked eagerly on waiting for their turn. No, not the Amateur Lawnmower Society Lovers Convention but Buckmore Park, where a young Lewis Hamilton started out on the ‘Karting Track’ and where last Friday, up and coming Lewis Hamiltons were hanging about fine tuning and adjusting their Karts ready for a turn around the track.
My meeting was in a mobile office in the middle of Karting Centres car park which is one of Kent County Councils venues for ‘Playing for Success’ which if the Rt. Hon Ed. Balls is to be believed “is ahead of the game, offering real opportunities for learning for all, both inside and outside the normal school day. By focusing on underachieving pupils between 9 and 14, and boosting the key skills they need to learn, it gets them back up to speed in these vital years of education”. The project has been going for some years now and there are ‘PfS’ centres all around the country (not all of them in Motor Sports centres) but it’s been so successful that they are now looking at piloting a ‘Creativity for Success’ scheme for those people who aren’t motivated to learn through sports themes (I must admit that to me, the revving of a Go-Kart engine is teeth grindingly reminiscent of an out of control chain-saw but that may be sour grapes ‘cos I didn’t get a spin around the track).
So for those of you who are watching the rise of gun and gang crime and wondering why nothing is being done about it – it is, but apparently it’s not as news worthy. I’d like to see more news articles about the good things that are happening for young people, wouldn’t you? The BBC are looking to promote ‘culture’ as part of their latest mission statement, well they could do worse than featuring an Arts Award centre or a PfS centre once a week and seeing the amazing work that young people are producing for themselves and for other young people as they develop their leadership skills. I saw a young man on a discussion programme with Nicky Campbell last week, no mention that part of the activity that helped him move away from a dangerous ‘Gang’ environment was getting involved in the Arts Award. Sports, Culture, Music, Dance, Duke Of Edinburgh, trust me a lot of young people are out there doing great things in their communities, their schools and yes, for themselves, to improve their own skills and learning but you won’t hear about it on the news or see it in the paper – because the media don’t think you’re interested. Maybe they’re right?