On Friday 23 May Stephen Timms, the MP for East Ham, visited the Fight for Peace Academy in North Woolwich. During the visit Mr Timms was shown around the academy – based at premises in the old Storey Primary School – by its founder Luke Downdey and spent time talking and listening to many of the youngsters who attend the academy.
Luke Dowdney, a successful boxer with strong Newham connections, founded the original Fight for Peace project for youngsters in one of the toughest neighbourhoods of Rio de Janeiro. It is doing a remarkable job in helping many young people escape from drugs, crime and poverty. Luke now divides his time between Brazil and the UK.
Fight for Peace North Woolwich was established last year. The academy provides boxing and martial arts training sessions and competition, and other sports and personal development programmes for young people in Newham between the ages of 11-21.
The academy is centred around a ‘Five Pillars’ model:
1. Boxing and other martial arts training and competition;
2. Personal development and formal education programmes;
3. Access to formal employment through job skills training and paid internships;
4. Support services and targeted referrals for young people and their families;
5. Building youth leaders via participation in a youth council and leadership training.
After looking around the academy, Mr Timms held a question and answer session with some of the young people at the centre and discussed a variety of topics with them, including sixth form study, the risks of boxing, free travel for young people and the London Olympics in 2012.
Mr Timms said: “The enthusiasm and commitment of the young people here is very impressive – as is the fact that the number of young people attending the academy has grown so fast. I wish The Fight for Peace Academy every success for the future.”