Positive Choices Day hosted at Mount St Mary's Catholic High School.
The Leeds United Foundation hosted their first Positive Choices event of the new season at Mount St Mary’s Catholic High School recently to encourage young students to make the right decisions in their future.
Forming part of the Premier League Kicks programme, the Positive Choices Day initiative was created during the 2019/20 season as an educational event that could be delivered in secondary schools to engage with hard-to-reach children.
Hosted by coaches from the club’s official charity, the event is supported by a number of external organisations and individuals who give presentations and begin discussions around making positive choices and not making the same mistake twice.
A lot of youngsters are often faced with challenges and difficult situations and the key message from the Leeds United Foundation is that there will always be people around to support you, whether it is a teacher, someone from the police or one of the coaches from the Foundation, there is always the option to reach out and ask for help and to make the right choice.
In attendance at Mount St Mary’s to help deliver the most recent event, were staff from HM Prison Service who gave a presentation in conjunction with Paul from Life Experiences along with St Giles Trust who spoke about weapons awareness and Lessons4Life which involved educational first aid sessions delivered by an ex paramedic.
Also on hand to support the activities on the day were a number of individuals with hard-hitting stories, that were able to talk from experience about going through difficult times and coming out the other side. This included Dwayne James, who grew up witnessing domestic violence which contributed to his criminal behaviour, yet he was able to talk about how he turned his life around and how he now works as a qualified chef.
Sarah Lloyd, from Mother’s After Murder, also spoke to the students about the tragic loss of her son who was the victim of a vicious knife attack in Harehills. The heart wrenching presentation described her journey of being told about what had happened to her son, having to identify him and organise the funeral and the impact his death had on her and her family.
Lastly, Tony Gibson, who has supported the Positive Choices events from the beginning, gave a full overview of his life experiences, including serving a total of 22 years in custody for a number of offences. During his presentation, Tony described how his home life was the driving force that led him into a life of crime and gang affiliation and the huge impact his choices had on his own family along with how he was able to turn his life around and now hopefully help other young people make better decisions than he did.
Here are some of the quotes from Year 9 students following the Positive Choices Day at Mount St Mary's Catholic High School:
"It taught me no matter how many mistakes you make in life you can always turn it around."
"It was powerful to hear real stories and made the message much more serious and hard hitting."
"It made me realise how lucky I am and fortunate and that I need to appreciate that more."
"It taught me to that I don't just have to copy what my friends do, I need to think more as one tiny moment could have an impact on the rest of my life."
The Leeds United Foundation continue to deliver these honest and crucial educational sessions across secondary schools in Leeds, if you are interested in learning more about the initiative that helps to change the lives of young people in our city, please contact Steve.Hartley@leedsunited.com.