FEATURE: ‘Put down the pizza’ call to Stevenage teenagers in new sporting drive

Jo Collier from Child UK, Skip Beatz instructor Peter Thompson and Child UK's Ashley Howard with tee

Jo Collier from Child UK, Skip Beatz instructor Peter Thompson and Child UK's Ashley Howard with teenagers Jerome Bryan and Charlie Winnett at the Bowes Lyon Centre in Stevenage. - Credit: Archant

Young people are being urged to put down their pizza and join in the fun after a new programme of sporting activities was launched during the school half term.

Teenagers pose for a picture before playing a game of basketball, one of many activities on offer at

Teenagers pose for a picture before playing a game of basketball, one of many activities on offer at the Bowes Lyon Centre in Stevenage. - Credit: Archant

Community organisation Future Inc teamed up with charity Child UK to host a range of free activities at the Bowes Lyon Centre in Stevenage, all aimed at those aged 13 and above.

Teenagers had the opportunity to play popular sports such as football, quick cricket, boxing and basketball, as well as trying out ultimate frisby, dodgeball, archery and cheerleading.

The week of activities – funded by Stevenage Borough Council and supported by YMCA Space Stevenage and youth project Pod 53 – were promoted with a Valentine’s launch party at Flava Bar which included an appearance from The Only Way is Essex star Ricky Rayment. The venue then hosted open band sessions and a workshop by Stevenage dance troupe Warriorz to supplement the sports on offer at Bowes Lyon.

Future Inc youth project leader Jo Collier has played a key role in putting the activities programme together.

Charlie Winnett and Ryan Priestley, taking part in Bowes Lyon Centre sporting activities week

Charlie Winnett and Ryan Priestley, taking part in Bowes Lyon Centre sporting activities week - Credit: Archant


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“I’m just trying to get young people out their houses to do something constructive instead of playing on the computer, eating pizzas or causing trouble,” she told the Comet during one of last week’s sessions at Bowes Lyon in St George’s Way.

“Instead of leaving young people to do things by themselves, we bring together all the kids from different areas of Stevenage so they can meet each other and make the activities as appealing as possible.”

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The 27-year-old said youth leaders have been doing everything they can to get their message across.

She said: “Our youth project leaders have used any means necessary to promote the project in Stevenage. We went to every school to talk about it and used social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – to spread the message.

“We have a programme in place but we adapt it to the kids. For example in one session young people were doing one hour of trampolining but they loved it so much we extended it to two hours.”

Among those to take part in the half term project was Ryan.

The 14-year-old told the Comet: “I heard about the event when I came back from school and they were giving out leaflets.

“I’ve never played dodgeball so that’s new for me. These kind of events give us something to do in the afternoon and we can also make friends. I’ve made three or four since the beginning!”

Scott, 16, said: “We were hanging some flyers out for the organisers and then I decided to come with two other people.

“There are not many places you can go to do sport activities.

“It’s alright now because it’s sunny but usually it’s quite rainy so there needs to be more places like this.”

Charlie, 13, added: “This is my third time here and I came with a friend. I love playing football and going on the trampoline.”

The new initiative has proved a success but Jo said she hopes it will continue to grow and attract more young people.

She said: “You need time to make a project a success and to reach more people. It’s the first time we’re doing something like this so it’s difficult but we’ll try to make it a regular event, including in the Easter holidays.

“Some days have been quiet – so you have to ask where are all the young people? Are they staying indoors, eating pizzas?

“If so that’s really bad and something we want to change. That’s why our activities are totally free except for the nightclub event.”

To find out more search for Future Inc on Facebook or call Jo on 07564 211329.

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