Creating pathways into training and employment

STARS (Social Training Activities and Recreational Sport) is a Leicestershire based group that was formed in 2006 with the aim of ensuring young people with a range of needs have opportunities to participate in, and deliver, healthy exercise programmes.

Within a year of its formation, STARS had developed its flagship 'Wanna be a Sports Coach' programme, which gives young people who have been excluded from school the opportunity to gain accredited sport qualifications within a practical learning environment.

Such was the runaway success of the programme at, firstly, re-engaging young people through sport and, secondly, creating pathways into further training and employment that STARS’ Director, Jevon Payne, began to look for other groups that could potentially benefit from a similar programme.

One group that immediately stood out was young people, aged 19 to 24, with learning disabilities. Looking for support to turn his idea into reality, Jevon turned to Sported.

How Sported helped

    Whilst STARS and Jevon had the foundations of a programme in place, what they lacked was an up-to-date knowledge of the existing structures and provisions already in place for young people with learning difficulties.


    The first step was to pair STARS with one of Sported’s local volunteer mentors, in the shape of Tricia Wray. As Jevon explains:


    “I liked the idea of having someone with knowledge of that sector come in and support us. For me it was about developing my understanding of not only what would and wouldn’t work, but also the issues families and young people face with regards to their educations and the progression onto further education, training and employment.”

The Results

Sported volunteer mentoring

Tapping into her contacts to set up introductory and exploratory meetings with relevant partner organisations, Tricia began to help Jevon build up his knowledge and understanding of the local landscape.

From this research, it became evident that there was a clear local need for a programme that offered young people with learning difficulties opportunities to gain sport coaching qualifications, whilst at the same time giving them opportunities to apply those skills and gain workplace experience. It was these insights that shaped the formation and design of STARS’ new 'Wanna be a Sports Coach' programme.

Sported followed up its volunteer mentor support with a large grant to STARS to get the pilot programme off the ground.

Plans for the future

'Wanna be a Sports Coach' is already producing some notable results. Three young people have already completed the first three stages of the programme, which includes completing their Sports Leaders Level 1 Awards, and are about to go onto the next stage - starting an apprenticeship at STARS. As full time employees they will get the chance to hone their skills and gain invaluable experience coaching sport in local schools and community groups.

STARS is looking to recruit more young people onto its programme and grow the number of apprentices it is able to offer by finding more local organisations to provide work placements.

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