The Jamie Lawrence Football Academy is mounting a major campaign to help kick knives and gang violence into touch - with official support from Under Armour, Inc.
Lawrence turned his life around after being sent to prison for robbery as a teenager and went on to become a successful Premier League and international footballer with Jamaica. Now he’s concentrating all his efforts on helping teenagers turn around their own lives with the power of football. Lawrence knows football helped keep him off the streets and change his life and his own academy, formed a year ago, is striking back against knife crime and helping disenfranchised young people most at risk.
“Football helped me change my life around completely and without the break I had, who knows what might have happened to me,” says Lawrence. “From my own background I know how difficult it can be for kids who have fewer life chances than the majority and that is why I am working so hard to help put something back into the community and help children who are most at risk. We are putting all our energy into working with passion, respect, warmth and strength with all our young people in the belief that positive role models can make a difference.”
Based at Nightingale School in London’s Tooting, Lawrence works with 11-16-year-old boys with behavioural, emotional and social difficulties who have all been excluded from mainstream schooling. And Lawrence is appreciative of the support given to him by Under Armour. He explains: “Under Armour have been fantastic in their support of the academy. It means a lot to the youngsters that they can wear high-quality, professional sports kit when they are training with us. I am genuinely very grateful that such a major worldwide sports company has taken the time and the energy to go out of their way to support my academy.”
The academy’s main objective is to help re-engage students with mainstream educators, while offering them the life and social skills required to enable them to overcome some of the difficult challenges that they undoubtedly face. “In a high percentage of cases, students go back to school with a positive attitude,” says academy director Carl Samuels. “For those who arrive at risk of exclusion, the academy boasts a 100 per cent success rate in assisting them to remain in mainstream education.”
The Jamie Lawrence Academy provides a service for Nightingale School from Monday-Thursday 14:30 - 17:00 and Friday 10:00-14:00, giving a unique opportunity for students to engage in a team activity and benefit from Lawrence’s experience at the highest level. The academy accepts students from all over the country, offers a bespoke programme which can be tailored to the specific needs of the students and also buys in specialist services where required.
The football-based programme is complemented by a range of:
• Communication workshops
• Anger management programmes
• Use of gym, boxing equipment and coach
• Use of music studio and workshop
• Personal development programmes
• Drug and alcohol awareness workshops
• Mentoring programme
Programmes can range from one day a week up to three days a week, depending on the need of the student, and can last a week or up to a year. Students are also offered long-term mentoring with support and advice once their programmes have ended with the academy.