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The #TRASHMOB was out in force for the Graduation. Ex Enduro World Series rider Niall was on hand present to show the guys what can be done on a bike if you stick to it and Duncan from the PRU came to get involved. I (Richard, Part of the TFT team and Project Manager for the academy) was hobbling along after the crew following a recent injury that prevented me from riding. Rich from Cotic was on bike lending and photo duty as usual, and the amazing Harry from British Cycling was heading up the session. Having a couple of extra faces on board really boosted the young people’s enthusiasm!

The session started with a quick warm up on Leeds Urban Bike Park BMX track, and the guys got a chance to have a go at the super fun BMX race start gates. Nothing like some traffic lights and beeps to get heartbeats racing!

The guys already knew they had some goodies to get their hands on in this session, and had prepared their own goody bags with a Gore Tex jacket and beanie hat from Sprayway, a sports drinks bottle from British Cycling, a TFT x Trek Mudguard, and some cool stickers and posters from Cotic. After the warm up, we held a graduation ceremony where Richard presented the graduates with a certificate of completion, and their goody bag. You could see the excitement in the young people’s eyes. They felt like celebrities, which was visibly great for their confidence.

Keen to get back to it, they donned their new Sprayway jackets and beanies, poured their drinks into the British Cycling drinks bottles, binned the trash, hopped on their bikes and headed out to the next trail section.

As you know, Using Lerner’s (2005) 5 C’s of Positive Youth Development has given us a framework to assess the young people’s development in Character, Competence, Connection, Compassion and Confidence, and for the most part we have noted improvement in all 5 areas.

Students are more confident – wanting to try new skills, and new sections of the trails at the bike park (sometimes only after Miss has gone first to show them it can be done slowly ☺). They want to help each other out, and have made new friendships, showing improvements in compassion and character. What is really amazing to see from my perspective, however, are the improvements in competence and connection that have been noticed outside of the Academy sessions. Students have not only taken part trash collection activities in their local area without encouragement, but Jo, their teacher said that they want to make it a weekly activity. They also showed exemplary behaviour in the community, and are more engaged in this than anything else. The young people are even collecting trash from the school site and sticking it in the bin, and telling Jo and their mates all about it. Whilst we wanted this kind of thing to happen, we really didn’t imagine that they would take so much ownership over their local area, and the trash they collect.

One particular student rode past a bin and tried to throw his trash in on the way. He missed, but with only a couple of words of encouragement he picked it up and put it back… On the face of it, this didn’t spark my interest but when Jo said that usually she would have been met with a much more aggressive response, and even she was surprised that he had binned it at all, I took a step back and thought “Wow, this really is working”.

As the students that took part in the first #TRASHMOB academy pilot graduate, we’re looking at what worked, what didn’t work, and what we might be able to change for the next pilot, and for future academies. (Yes, there’s going to be more!!) We’ve got some work to do, but there’s another pilot to come. We’re going to try a couple of different techniques, learning from the 5 C’s and what we’ve done already to inform a short, medium and long- term syllabus for 2021 and beyond.

If you, or anyone you know is part of a PRU or similar Alternative Provision education establishment and likes the sound of the #Trashmob Academy, get in touch and we’ll get the ball rolling. If you’re a coach, and would like to get involved then we’re all ears. The more the merrier!



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