As one of our community initiatives, the team at Aspire have been working alongside the Bristol Bears Community Foundation to give on-going support to their Bright Sparks programme.

A good child can easily be led astray if not given the right support and opportunities in life. Bright Sparks aims to prevent that happening through sports-based education and intervention, providing children with ethics and values that are tantamount to the rugby union ethos.

These young people are identified as being at risk from issues such as permanent exclusion, anti-social behaviour, and the potential for future criminal action. They attend secondary schools located in areas of Bristol and Somerset that are ranked as some of the most deprived wards in the country.

We are incredibly proud to have been a founding partner of the Bright Sparks programme alongside the Bristol Bears Community Foundation.

Bright Sparks provides disadvantaged boys with new skills and positive life lessons

The programme is a fully accredited 38-week education for 14-year-old boys coming from disadvantaged areas, which builds towards a Sports and Fitness Award. It mixes classroom and practical-based lessons over weekly two-hour sessions.

Bright Sparks uses a holistic approach to engage with pupils that are struggling to connect with their school-based education, and are slipping into worrying behaviours, and tries to give them the tools to get back on the right track.

Ian Larthe de Langladure, partner at Aspire, said: “This is an excellent programme which will have a positive effect on young people.

“The young people that the Bright Sparks programme is looking to engage with are in the formative years of their school career and already on the cusp of making poor choices and suffering the consequences of these decisions. Intervening at this point to help them gain confidence and achieving a qualification could be the making of them”.

By helping to fund Bright Sparks, our hope is that eventually the schools themselves will take on supporting the programme, allowing us to look at increasing the number of schools supported by the project.

Craig Capel, community development manager at the Bristol Bears Community Foundation, said: “The support from Aspire Partnership meant that the Bright Sparks programme continued to deliver its great work in one of the most disadvantaged wards in Bristol.

“After meeting with Ian and the team, it was clear they had the same passion to make a positive change in young people’s lives and help where they can.”

Some of the key achievements of the programme include:

  • Helping 250 students to complete the course over the past three years
  • 85% of students entering the programme complete it and gain an accredited Sport and Fitness Award
  • On average 80% of participants decrease “behaviour points” at their schools by the end of the academic year
  • Students who were surveyed on their participation reported that they felt they had developed better stress management strategies (80% of participants), improved their teamwork skills (90%) and had learned to appreciate their teachers and education more (100%).

Aspire provides financial lessons in the classroom

Recently, our very own Ken Hall and Harry Persad visited the Oasis Brislington academy as part of our involvement with Bright Sparks to provide a session for the boys designed to help them develop a better understanding of finances.

They covered topics such as how much money they would be likely to earn as apprentices or minimum wage workers, how saving early could benefit their own futures, and life lessons to help them better enter their future workplaces.

Ken and Harry performed some roleplay to help the boys visualise the differences between good and bad interview techniques before working through a presentation on some of the key lessons from financial planning. These included identifying lifestyle goals, understanding the benefits of saving and realising how different career paths can affect their desired financial goals.

The staff at Bright Sparks like to break up the sessions between education in the classroom and practical fun on the field. Typically that involves rugby, but for this particular session the sport of the day was sumo wrestling and, as per Bright Sparks rules, “everyone gets involved”, including our own Ken and Harry.

Playing a part in the local community

Playing a part in the Bristol community is very important to us at Aspire. We are very proud to have been involved with a number of projects over the years alongside the Bristol Bears. This includes Break the Cycle, and our work with Bear in Mind that provides young girls with a health and wellbeing programme to help them better face the challenges young women face today.

Our continued support of the Bright Sparks programme will hopefully give these young boys the right skills to build towards a better educational and financial future, and to help them reach their own future life goals.

Ian Larthe de Langladure summed up the benefits of the Aspire and Bright Sparks collaboration when discussing the programme.

He said: “The values of the programme – teamwork, communication, perseverance – sit well with our values. In years to come they could be ‘successful in business’ and that’s exciting. That’s why Aspire support the Bright Sparks programme.”