Press Centre

Run For Your Life

  • Episode: 

    1 of 1

  • Transmission (TX): 

    Tue 23 Apr 2019
  • TX Confirmed: 

    Yes
  • Time: 

    10.45pm - 11.50pm
  • Week: 

    Week 17 2019 : Sat 20 Apr - Fri 26 Apr
  • Channel: 

    ITV
  • Status: 

    New
The information contained herein is embargoed from all Press, online, social media, non-commercial publication or syndication - in the public domain - until Tuesday 16 April 2019.
 
“If you don’t give a young person something to aim for - a focus, a drive, a determination, enjoyment, something to do, they will find their own focus. They will find their own group to belong to.” - Connie Henry, founder of Track Academy
 
Set against increasing alarm about knife crime, this landmark new documentary for ITV offers an insight into the potential for sport to offer young people an alternative path in life to avoid them being drawn into crime and gang culture.
 
Featuring contributions from the likes of Lord Sebastian Coe, Dame Kelly Holmes and Daley Thompson CBE this documentary focuses on the impact of Connie Henry’s Track Academy organisation on youngsters’ lives.
 
It also highlights Connie's aims to win government-backing for an idea she believes could harness the power of sport to offer positive opportunities to young people in communities afflicted by knife crime and across the country.
 
Connie is a former Commonwealth Games triple jump medallist and founded Track Academy in North West London in 2007 aiming to turn young people’s lives who by their own admission might otherwise have been dragged into crime.
 
One of those youngsters, Confidence Lawson, now 28 and a sprinter is seen competing in the British Athletics Indoor Championships after 11 years at Track Academy . He was originally referred to Connie by his own PE teacher, concerned Confidence was being led down a dangerous path. But he says Connie changed his life: “The best way I can summarise it, she’s like a second mum to me. Even to the point where she knows more about me than my own parents. [And] she tells it like it is.”
 
The programme shows how Track Academy supports teenagers who aren’t elite athletes, including Humza Parvez (16), who is among the many teenagers who are clearly now seeing the benefits sport can bring. He says: “Firstly, I wasn’t really interested in it, but then I realised it was fun. I felt like I fitted in, it’s like a family…. This keeps me away from doing what kids do these days, carrying knives, drugs and all that. That stuff is wrong.”
 
Among the supporters of Connie’s organisation is British athletic legend Daley Thompson, a double Olympic decathlon gold medallist, who addresses the youngsters providing an insight into his mindset and the benefits of getting involved in sport. He says: “I believe that kids’ health and wellbeing is as important as learning maths, and geography, and history and English.”
 
Paul Barnes, the father of 15 year old Quamari Barnes, who was stabbed to death in 2017, agrees to become a mentor at the academy and is called in to give a talk after one of its own members is injured in a stabbing. He believes the government needs to look at alternative ways of spending money to make a difference to young people's lives. He says: “Do you know what, they’re directing their funds in the wrong places, big time. I think they are just doing it to show people, ‘We are doing things.’ Do you know what, you can’t come and tell people like myself who have lost a kid - you ain’t doing nothing as far as I’m concerned. Or if you are doing something, it’s not good, or it’s not good enough. They need to distribute money where it is effective."
 
Spending on youth services by local authorities has reportedly fallen by a third in just three years, and a range of people from Dame Kelly Holmes to primary school teachers tell the programme how they believe things could change.
 
After giving her protege Confidence Lawson a pep talk before he competes, Connie provides an insight into how she aims to change youngsters’ mindsets. She says: “The words I’ve said to him are, ‘Let him out.’ And what I mean by that is that when Confidence came to us at 16, 17, he found it really difficult to control his temper and his aggression. But there was a flip side, which is there is a time you are allowed to be really aggressive and really go for it, and that’s on the track.”