“The issues facing young people today and the perception communities have of them led to the youngsters of Bude in 2004 standing up to the authorities and questioning the good things young people do but do not get recognised for. It was recognised that sport needed to be more available to young people, improving accessibility and impacting on a healthier, more active lifestyle,” said CATS co-founder, Denise May.
Other issues were raised around the cost of attending sports clubs and the need to change the local public perception of the town’s youth. As a result, CATS was formed.
A committee was formed which encompassed a range of partners in the community. The essential element of the committee is the presence of young people who represent the voice and direction of the scheme itself.
Denise added: “It was important for all partners to see the scheme as a support mechanism, rather than a conflict to associations already in existence.”
The committee would then meet regularly to decide on criteria for sports rewards and presentation dates. Young people were nominated for their positive involvement in the community which included participating in litter picking, beach cleaning, fundraising, sports coaching or mentoring.
Launched in March 2005 with its first awards ceremony, the project recognised 150 young people.
CATS did not have any funding to start with so they needed to build up relationships with sports providers who could donate free sports sessions. The project was then given support from the local council as well as private sports businesses.
This community scheme positively raises the profile of young people. It challenges perceptions whilst providing the opportunity for children to gain sports rewards. This goes towards improving cohesion within the community and the promotion of healthy lifestyles.
“It (the project) surpassed all expectations. What started as a small initiative in Bude, has now developed into a national charity supporting other young people across the country,” commented Denise.
Budehaven has become a flagship town to other schools through the Youth Sport Trust for its community engagement work. Young people are volunteering and gaining new skills through the sports diversionary projects, which in turn has led to employment.