Monday, August 18, 2008

Sir Steve Redgrave - Demonstrating how rowing and good leadership can promote positive change

If ever we needed more evidence as to how to promote change in thinking and attitudes of marginalised groups and offenders, then last week's ITV 4 programme showing Steve Redgrave's work with young men from Liverpool in learning to row was an inspiration. With his highly skilled coaches they took the young men on a unique and important journey of change.

As expected, many of the participants were disappointed at not being selected for the final boat crews. Notwithstanding, they will have undoubtedly benefited enormously from the experience. With more time and a continuing programme, these too would have achieved more with the disappointments being turned into personal triumphs.

Rather than simply relying on prison and penal retribution, if we are serious about reducing social exclusion and re-offending, increasing such opportunities for personal development and success are surely the way forward. Investing in this type of programme will enable more young people to experience the positive outcomes of confidence, self-worth, self-esteem, personal discipline and a desire for change, all of which will serve to help provide the essential skills to gain employment and to break the depressing cycle of failure, social deprivation, gang cultures, offending and financial waste.

One can only imagine what could be achieved if, instead of spending £2-3bn on Titan prisons, some of that money were to be invested by increasing access to this and other similar programmes.

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