STUDENTS have been inspired in their learning by an athlete with real punch.
Former World Thai-Boxing champion Rachael MacKenzie joined students from Laurence Jackson School, Guisborough, for the launch of a new sports initiative designed to boost self-confidence and encourage them to engage in a healthier lifestyle.
Now retired, the Harrogate athlete, who has world, European and British titles to her name, works to promote sport among young people.
She helped about 40 Year 8 students and seven Year 9 sports leaders launch a new project at Laurence Jackson School, which is now part of the Vision Academy Learning Trust.
The Healthy Lifestyles Champions Programme is designed to encourage children to become more active, boosting self-confidence and health.
“I am really passionate about young people getting involved in sport,” said Rachael, a trained physiotherapist. “This initiative is great as it targets young people who might not have the confidence to give a variety of sports a go.
“By pushing them out of their comfort zones it boosts their self-confidence and self-esteem, makes them more resilient, reduces stress and transforms their health and wellbeing.
“I found Thai boxing quite late on, when I was at Northumbria University, and without it I probably wouldn’t have stayed in sport. Even though I have retired I still train and this project gives young people a wonderful opportunity to try unconventional sports which could be key in the life-long participation of activities.”
The new project is co-ordinated by teachers Andy Tennyson and Vicki Eltringham. It also benefits Year 9 sports leaders looking to develop their leadership skills.
Year 8 students took part in a host of activities including Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, rock climbing, Thai boxing, dodge ball, archery and volleyball.
Ms Eltringham said: “These are activities the students wouldn’t normally get to try in their PE lessons.
“They seemed to really enjoy the sports and hopefully will take this increased positivity back into the classroom for their other lessons.”