Community Action Through Sport promotes recognises and rewards young people for positive community action with sports based awards. To ensure that young people have the opportunity to volunteer, CATS creates sports diversionary projects which are projects specifically targeted at young people aged 13-19 at risk of offending or exclusion.
Street Paddler uses canoeing as the sport to divert young people away from nuisance behaviour on Friday nights. Young people taking part in the Street Paddler programme have the opportunity to gain a nationally recognised coaching award through the British Canoe Union (Canoe England) and are sign posted back into volunteer coaching with the scheme ready for the next wave of young people.
A pilot scheme of Street Paddler took place in Autumn 2008 and the impact was phenomenal; seeing young people at risk of entering the criminal justice system returning to education to study outdoor pursuits, and wanting to take up canoeing as a competitive sport.
In an area surrounded by water, lakes, sea and rivers, canoeing should be available to all. Financial restraints and isolated rural areas prevent many young people from having access to this activity. Street Paddler solves those issues and provides not only an activity, but a programme which delivers leadership, communication, safety training and first aid, resulting in young people with improved self esteem and feelings of self achievement.
This project is truly inspiring and making a real difference in the lives of disadvantaged young people. It is a great example of a grass roots project capturing the spirit of the Games and offering young people the opportunity to make a positive difference to their lives.