BOXING Clever was the motto last week when the Limerick Sports Partnership marked the culmination of its 20-week integrated educational, substance use recovery and fitness programme with a special graduation ceremony in the Absolute Hotel.
Eight graduates received their certificates after completing the Boxing Clever course which aims to help participants develop more resilient identities, while encouraging educational achievement, physical wellness, and a reduction in harmful or risky behaviours.
It comprises of two QQI Level 5 qualifications in Community Addiction Studies and Health Related Fitness accredited by the Limerick College of Further Education and a physical activity strand using Boxercise to build physical fitness.
The programme takes place three days a week in the Northside Learning Hub in Kileely.
Boxing Clever offers participants, who are typically marginalised and socially excluded, a pathway to adult education, sports education, and addiction education. I also gives them an opportunity to look at how the issues they are experiencing impact on their lives and provides them with an opportunity to reintegrate back into mainstream society.
The programme was initially run in the Ballymun Youth Action project and was first rolled out in Limerick by the Limerick Sports Partnership in 2018 after securing funding from the Mid-West Regional Drug and Alcohol Forum and the Limerick City and County Council Social Intervention Fund.
Coordinator Padraigh Reale highlights the importance of how the programme is delivered, using past participants as mentors for new participants as well as having past participants delivering the educational components.
“Extra support is available for those who might need it, but by and large the group become the support structure for one another. Having previous participants as tutors and mentors, acts as a motivational tool, instilling confidence, and belief,” he explained.
A welcome contributor to this year’s graduation event was James Leonard, one of the hosts of the Two Norries Podcast.
James was raised in Knocknaheeny, which he describes as “probably the most deprived area in Cork”. He in part ascribes his spiral into heroin addiction to his father being in prison during his childhood.
His break with drugs and intermittent homelessness came after an overdose where he was found by two Gardaí.
“At that stage I was looking for a way out, and that way was death. When these Guards – who I didn’t have a great relationship with, by the way – showed me compassion and empathy, it really struck a chord with me. The next day, I rang to get on a list for a treatment centre.”
James went on to complete a Bachelor of Arts, a Master’s Degree and a PHD in Criminology. He encouraged participants to use the Boxing Clever Programme as a steppingstone to a better life and to have belief in themselves.
This Boxing Clever programme is open to over 18’s who are in recovery from addiction. The next programme will begin on September 17 and is now open for applications. Application forms are available from Padraig Reale on [email protected] or 061-333600/085-1691064.
More information on the Boxing Clever initiative here