Ice-skating project helps youngsters channel energy in positive way
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Free ice-skating sessions are being held as part of a new project designed to improve the lives of vulnerable children in Nottingham.
Nottinghamshire Police joined forces with the city’s National Ice Centre to provide 10 weekly sessions for thirty young people.
The girls and boys, aged 8-17, were identified by the force’s Youth Outreach team, which aims to divert young people away from crime and encourage them to make positive life choices.
The first of the Friday evening sessions took place on 12 January, with the pilot project – called Operation Polarised – running until 15 March.
The ice-skating sessions last two hours, with five of the sessions including prevention tutorials on important topics such as knife crime, child sexual exploitation and personal safety.
To encourage turnout, those who attend at least seven sessions will be rewarded with free tickets to a Nottingham Panthers home fixture, plus free ice-skating lessons for a year.
PC Paul Kanikowski, one of the force’s School and Early Intervention Officers, said the project had a number of benefits. He said:
“The youngsters taking part are either vulnerable, socially excluded or involved in crime and the aim is to help them make positive life choices.
“By providing these ice-skating sessions, we are giving the young people an opportunity to channel their energy in a positive way.
“It diverts them away from the streets and provides a safe environment to develop new skills and to enjoy some exercise, while also learning about the dangers and consequences of issues such as knife crime, drugs and antisocial behaviour.
“The project has had a fantastic response since launching and we are already starting to see the dividends of engaging young people in these positive activities.
“I’d like to thank the National Ice Centre and Nottingham Panthers for supporting us in this project. Their generosity has enabled us to deliver this project at very little cost and we are extremely grateful to them.”
Romel Davis, of the Nottinghamshire Police Youth Outreach team, said:
“The response has been unbelievable. When we opened the applications, all the spaces went in the first day and the waiting list had over 50 names on it.
“Every young person involved in the programme has been identified as either vulnerable, socially excluded or at risk of crime.
“That was the criteria we set because the whole idea behind this project is to raise aspirations, build confidence and provide positive opportunities for young people.
“It’s important we have those positive interactions with young people as it gives us an opportunity to provide them with some educational inputs at the same time.
“By offering ice-skating as an incentive, it makes it easier for us to get across key messages around issues such as knife crime and child sexual exploitation.”
Inspector John Lees, of the Nottingham City Centre neighbourhood policing team, said he was pleased to see the project launch. He said:
“Sport is a tried and tested way of nurturing self-esteem and confidence and pushing young people to reach their full potential.
“The strong attendance at these sessions shows the value in the police working with partners to implement preventative measures that help drive down anti-social behaviour and disorder.”
Eleni Hallam, Ice Sports Team Leader at National Ice Centre, said:
“The team at National Ice Centre are proud to support Nottinghamshire Police on this valuable pilot project. We believe that ice skating not only gives socially excluded individuals a chance to build relationships, but it teaches resilience.
“Operation Polarised has already been so well engaged with but we hope to see more positive outcomes from this programme – whether that’s helping people to gain a new skill or just enjoy exercise.
“We encourage all members of the Nottingham community and wider to engage in this sport, it’s open to everyone whether you’ve stepped on the ice before or not. Children under 5 and essential companions skate for free and we offer discount for both students and Blue Light card holders. By doing this we hope that our services are accessible to more people.”
Nottinghamshire Police is focusing on the work carried out by police in the community this week as part of neighbourhood policing week of action, which runs from 22 January to 28 January.