Skills are critical, but so are the environments that enable them to be developed
The skills people have and developing them over time are key to any career and fundamental to long-term success.
But having the opportunity to acquire those skills is just as important. Environments that foster quality learning, harness talent, determination and hard-work and ensure natural attributes can be nurtured into tangible skills that help young people fulfil their potential are crucial.
And in certain parts of the UK, such as Newham – one of London’s most deprived boroughs – schools, clubs and associations, which act as a springboard of opportunity to learn key skills, are essential.
That’s why ExCeL is proud to invest in two organisations that champion social mobility: the London Academy of Excellence (LAE) and the Newham All Star Sports Academy (NASSA).
LAE opened in 2012 and has sought to present greater opportunity for Newham’s young people to get into the UK’s top universities. As part of its core focus on promoting social mobility through education, the school prioritises offers of places to students eligible for free school meals.
This year more than 50 per cent of those at the school who applied received offers to study at Cambridge and Oxford colleges. Since 2014, more than 150 pupils have had offers to the UK’s top two universities.
ExCeL supports the academy’s Hardship and Opportunities Fund and assists with funding for visits that raise aspirations among students.
Meanwhile, NASSA is a multi-award winning club set up 15 years ago by an inspirational mum, Natasha Hart MBE, who wanted to give her boys a way of playing basketball. Today, their mission is to ensure that Newham’s youngsters – who might ordinarily be susceptible to anti-social behaviour or gang culture – have an inclusive club to develop their physical and mental skills.
The club’s goal is to provide a safe and supportive environment for young people so that they have the best chance of becoming employable, ambitious, responsible leaders of the future. NASSA uses the power of sport as a vessel for engraining these vital attributes and skills.
From campaigns like Carry a Basketball Not A Blade, which has reached thousands of young Londoners, to providing access to coaching qualifications and creating a sense of belonging, camaraderie and teamwork upon which individuals thrive, NASSA is positively affecting the futures of hundreds of teenagers. In addition, it mentors its vulnerable young people through a dedicated and caring team of volunteer coaches.
The skills they learn and the focus basketball brings is invaluable as these young people transition from school to the world of work.
ExCeL is proud to sponsor the club and works closely with them in a number of ways, including through an advisory board, chaired by ExCeL CEO Jeremy Rees. It helps NASSA to navigate any challenges that it faces, raise funds, its profile, and its impact –all of which supports the core mission of improving outcomes and skills for young people.
To help NASSA tell its inspiring stories, ExCeL has recently worked closely with one of its design agencies, Integral, to build NASSA a new website and brand identity. You can visit that here: https://nassasports.org.uk/
This all forms part of our commitment to ensure young people in Newham have access to the very best environments, enabling them to learn the skills they need to live prosperous, healthy, happy lives.
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