Former Boxing Star helps Smithills pupils stay mentally healthy

Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist & European Silver Medallistand Youth Sport Trust athlete mentor, Courtney Fry, visited students from Smithills School this week 10/12/2019, to raise awareness of the importance of mental health as part of the Greater Manchester Mentally Healthy Schools & Colleges Programme.


His visit was part of a programme, commissioned by Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership, to provide specialist mental health support for both pupils and teachers in 125 primary, secondary schools and colleges across Greater Manchester.


The athlete, who’s sport has taken him around the world, competing at the Commonwealth Games, World Championships and the Olympic Games,has been working with students to provide advice to help improve their confidence and reach their full potential.  


Drawing on his own experiences of being bullied at school for being good at sport and competing at a high level, Courtney Fry has also been offering the students coaching in key life skills such as growing self-esteem, learning creative thinking skills and how to develop coping strategies for challenges.


The two-phase scheme which has expanded from 64 educational settings to a total of 125 schools, colleges and pupil referral units is a collaboration between Alliance for Learning Teaching School, Place2Be, children’s charity the Youth Sport Trust, Social Sense, Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership and 42nd Street. 


One in eight young people aged 5 to 19 has at least one mental health disorder according to research from The NHS. Through workshops with Youth Sport Trust athlete mentors and Place2Be, young people are being supported to build their confidence and reach their full potential. The programme has already found that by helping young people to become Mental Health Champions, 88% of primary pupils taking part said they can now recognise poor mental health in their peers. 


Alliance For Learning, the teaching school part of the Bright Futures Educational Trust, has trained the school leadership teams in mental health first aid, while the project has offered schools guidance on how to work more effectively with children and young people experiencing mental health problems. The scheme has also provided a simpler, easier way to refer into Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).


Courtney Fry, Youth Sport Trust athlete mentor, said: 


“The Greater Manchester Healthy Schools & Colleges Programme really is making a difference to young people and I was pleased to see how the sessions encouraged students to open up. I take great pride in the part I play in motivating and inspiring young people to take up sport and promote positive mental health and wellbeing.  Whilst at school, I would have loved the opportunity to meet someone who had competed at a high level. For me, it’s a great way of sharing my experiences and knowledge to educate and help others choose the right paths in life.”


Miss Angus, Mental Health Lead said:


"Our students have really benefitted from this project and the support we have received has been excellent.  As a school, we feel we do a lot to support wellbeing already, but the extra training in mental health first aid and the student workshops have enhanced our provision. It is fantastic to see the links between mental health, sport and physical activity being made explicit too.”

Check out our story in the Bolton News HERE.

Pictures from the event