Following the success of the Track Academy documentary Run For Your Life, the charity has launched a £24,000 fundraising drive to help even more young people.
The ITV programme highlighted just how important sport can be in keeping youngsters on the right track, focusing on individuals such as Confidence Lawson. Now 28, the sprinter joined the academy in his teens following a crisis call from his PE teacher.
Track Academy founder Connie explained: “Confidence’s teacher had real concerns that he would be dead or in prison by the end of that year if his behaviour didn’t change. So he came to us. There were behavioural traits, and groups that he was hanging out with, that were really distressing. But with our help he turned his life around. He’s now an international athlete and a real inspiration to other students. I’m very proud of him.”
Confidence said that Connie has been like a second mum to him over the last 11 years. “She knows more about me than my actual parents; she tells me how it is,” he said. “I’m from an area where there was nothing to do after school. So coming to Track Academy was an escape from hanging about doing nothing. It gave me options.
“Now, I’m the one giving the younger ones advice. My path was made a lot easier by Track Academy and I’m grateful for that.”
As a registered charity, Track Academy relies on financial assistance from individuals and organisations to continue its work with young people. Currently, the academy faces a deficit of £24,000, which is enough to support 48 student athletes for one year. This includes athletics training, education sessions and one-to-one mentoring.
Connie said: “We provide more than 1,000 sessions across 52 weeks for our young people. We’ve had members expelled from school 32 times and then go on to graduate from university, while others have been the first in their family to go to college. Some of our students have gone on to compete for their country in athletics.
“These young people deserve to fulfil their potential, but without our help they could easily fall through the cracks. So we’re asking for financial help to give these kids the tools they need to succeed in life.”