Bristol Rugby’s Bright Sparks Programme Honoured

Bristol Rugby’s Bright Sparks programme landed the J.P. Morgan Asset Management Impact Award at the seventh All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards at the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday evening.

The programme, run by former Bristol winger Ben Breeze, is aimed at educating secondary school children who are ‘at risk’ from persistent non-attendance, permanent exclusion, low educational attainment, poor behaviour and/or low self esteem.

Using the ethos surrounding rugby, Breeze, 38, and his team work in partnership with Bristol’s secondary schools to deliver life-changing interventions for the city’s most disaffected young people.

Bright Sparks is now in its sixth year and shows no sign of slowing down, with 80 young people this year growing to 120 next, with hundreds having already been positively affected by its work and Head of Community at Premiership Rugby Wayne Morris believes that longevity is crucial.

He said: “The Bright Sparks programme has been in development for a number of years and it’s been entered into the innovation category in the past, it has been a fantastic journey.

“It now works with some really excluded people within schools as well as directly with school exclusion officers and local partners to look at young people within school environments who would benefit most from the programme, and what that does is provide an alternative method of learning.

“There’s been some fantastic results in attendance but young kids who would come out of school traditionally, from being expelled or having come out with no qualifications, are also engaging in this programme. Every young person who lasts the first term ends up with a qualification.”

The awards were run in association with The All Parliamentary Rugby Union Group, Premiership Rugby, partners Aviva, Land Rover and J.P. Morgan Asset Management, and media partner SportBusiness Group.

And Morris insists the influence of Premiership Rugby can continue over the next 12 months and beyond.

He added: “The big advantage we’ve got is we’ve got an emotive brand and we’ve got some very unique assets in players.

“They are great role models and ambassadors but we also have stadia which enthuse and inspire people, and we can utilise rugby as a mechanic to get to people excited, whether it be about health changes, education, employment opportunities, it provides them with a different opportunity to what they face normally.”

For the results of the All Parliamentary Premiership Rugby Community Awards visit www.premiershiprugby.com

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