The Power of Sport to change lives

So mental health awareness especially in men is a hot topic so I thought I would write about my experience of mental health and how sport has the power to change lives.

Lets start way back at primary school so we are looking at the mid 1980s and I was in the first year of primary school (what is now year 3). I was not doing great at school struggling with most subjects including reading and hand writing. At parents evening my class teacher Mr Nixon said to my parents once Peter finds something he is good at he will excel.

Fast forward 3 years and I am now in year 6. Still struggling with school work and looking to move onto secondary school in the summer. I tried out for the district sports team and was selected for the relay. I was given the baton in around 4th place… I ran like I never done before and moved us up to second over a distance of just 80m. We finished 2nd place and everyone was amazed by my run.

This gave me so much confidence and I went into sports day on a mission to win in my year at primary school. I did that beating Dominic Andrews the fastest boy in the school.

After this I was hooked; I went to local athletics holiday scheme Startrack something I would go onto organise as an adult.

After leaving primary school I joined Ashford Athletic Club and twenty seven years later I am still an active member as a coach and occasional athlete. I have been vice chairman, development officer and schools liaison officer on the club committee.

If you had told me when I was that year 3 child I would go onto compete in athletics, train with international athletes and travel the UK competing I would not have believed you.

If you had said I would go to university, work for the national governing body for athletics, win a national award and be invited by the UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to one his celebrations of UK sport I would have fallen off my chair.

But all these things happened and I honestly believe it is down to sport. It has given me the confidence to try new things, meet new people and feel good about myself. It gave me the belief that I can succeed in life and academically.

I have suffered with my mental health: stress, anxiety and depression but the power of sport helped me get through the toughness of times. The resilience I have built from sport helped me keep going when it would have been easier to give up. I turned to sport in tough times as a release to stress; this could be during exams, large workload or just something that is worrying you.

Sport has the power to change lives and I am proud to be doing this everyday as part of my full-time job as Community Engagement and Volunteer Manager for London charity Greenhouse Sport. This charity uses sport to develop young people so they all have a chance to suceed. Sport has helped me so much and I am pleased to be making a difference everyday.

Never underestimate the power of sport.

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