Active Communities Network Announced As Winner of Laureus Sport for Good Award
On the eve of the 2018 Laureus World Sports Awards in Monaco, Active Communities Network (ACN), an organisation which uses sport to help change the lives of young people in the UK, Ireland and South Africa, has been announced as the 2018 Laureus Sport for Good Award winner.
Benedict Cumberbatch, Host of tomorrow evening's Ceremony, made the announcement at a press conference in Monaco alongside Laureus Academy Chairman Sean Fitzpatrick, ACN Founder and CEO Gary Stannett and 24 and 25-year-old project leaders Ibrahim Kanu and Ade Akande. Earlier this month, Benedict visited Gary, Ade and Ibrahim in South London to experience the work of the programme first-hand.
The Laureus Sport for Good Award is awarded to an organisation or individual who, in the opinion of the members of the Laureus World Sports Academy, has used the power of sport to overcome violence, discrimination or disadvantage. The Academy believe ACN has made an outstanding contribution to society through the medium of sport; making a significant contribution to the lives of young people.
Laureus Sport for Good is the Laureus charity that uses sport to help young people around the world overcome violence, discrimination and disadvantage. Working with more than 100 programmes in 35 countries, Laureus Sport for Good believes that sport can change the world.
ACN believes all young people should have the same opportunity to succeed, regardless of backgrounds. Using a variety of sports, the organisation works with marginalised and vulnerable young people, helping to strengthen and reinforce positive lifestyle choices, and offering a pathway to learning new skills and progressing into education, training and employment programmes.
ACN has come a long way since it was founded in 2007. With support from Laureus Sport for Good and other partners, over 160,000 young people have been through its programmes in the UK and Ireland, with phenomenal success: 30,000 participants have moved into education, training or employment. And 50,000 - almost 1 in 3 - have begun giving back to society by volunteering at ACN or other community programmes, turning those who could have been marginalised or excluded by society into young people who are making a contribution instead.
At tomorrow's Laureus World Sports Awards Ceremony, ACN programme participant Dean McComb will join Gary Stannett and ACN Programme Director Jim Donnelly on stage to receive the Laureus statuette. Growing up in one of the most disadvantaged communities in Northern Ireland, Dean and his group of friends were among the most disengaged in Belfast as young men. They were expelled, barred and forgotten. However, Dean met his mentor Jim through an ACN boxing programme, and with Jim's support, has made positive life choices and stayed out of the serious trouble that destroys the lives of many others growing up in the same neighbourhood.
Despite being faced with a number of obstacles in his personal life, Dean's resilience, courage and the sport of boxing kept him focused. Today, he is a volunteer with the organisation in Belfast, passing his own experiences and learnings on to the next generation. Dean's inspirational story is proof that sport can change the world.
Benedict Cumberbatch: "I have seen first-hand the work Active Communities Network undertakes, and for me it is the perfect example of 'Sport for Good'. I met inspirational leaders who have come through the programme and are now role models, coaches and facilitators, giving back to the next generation. Tomorrow evening we will celebrate the highest achievers in sport but I know everyone in the auditorium will be moved, inspired and motivated by the incredible work done by this organisation."
Sean Fitzpatrick, Chairman of the Laureus World Sports Academy: "During my time as a Laureus Academy Member, I have seen the work of Active Communities Network many times, and I'm more and more impressed with every visit. I've met participants, project leaders and politicians who all believe in the work being done, and the powerful role sport can play. I know I speak on behalf of the entire Laureus World Sports Academy when I say that we are hugely inspired by their work. The organisation is an incredible success story."
Gary Stannett, CEO of Active Communities Network: "It is a great honour that the work of Active Communities Network across the UK, Ireland and South AFRICA has been recognised with the Laureus Sport for Good Award. As an organisation we believe that sport is a fantastic facilitator and pathway to deliver resilience, stability and cohesion in disadvantaged communities, and our staff work in some of the most challenging neighbourhoods to try and create long term social change through FRONTLINE projects, training and research initiatives. Laureus and its Academy have been, and continue to be, with us on every step of that journey, and this Award is a great endorsement for our work from people who truly understand Sport for Good."