Inside Matters

'PL Inspires is the best thing that could have happened to these girls'

By Mark Orlovac 9 May 2024
Premier League Inspires Challenge 2024, Chelsea

As young people celebrate the Premier League Inspires Challenge, find out how the programme has made an impact on one team from Chelsea

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More than 200 young people from across England and Wales came together at Wembley Stadium this week to celebrate the latest Premier League Inspires Challenge, held as part of the Premier League's Inside Matters campaign.

The event allowed participants from 45 clubs to showcase their social action projects which have been designed and delivered to improve mental health in schools, communities and football clubs.

Ellie, Charlotte, and Emma from The Winston Churchill School, represented the Chelsea FC Foundation and have created a programme which offers support, a safe space and activities for students and staff who have periods to address the associated mental health challenges.

Rebecca Exworth, Winston Churchill School's alternative provision co-ordinator, explains what being part of Premier League Inspires means to her team.

"My role is working with students that struggle within mainstream schooling and we use Premier League Inspires as an opportunity to show leadership skills, empowerment and ingenuity to give these students a positive experience.

"For three or four years now, I've witnessed how PL Inspires helps students that need it. Seeing students who may have struggled now shining in doing something that they love is what it is all about.

"For this year's Challenge we had 12 teams presenting at the school. They had fantastic ideas and we could have picked any of them.

"The thing I love about Premier League Inspires is that the young people lead the sessions. Mainstream school isn't always set up for that sort of thing but with this programme, we are reaching so many people.

Premier League Inspires, Chelsea, Winston Churchill School

"The three girls in our team will tell you that their engagement with school at times can really struggle but with the Challenge, they've lit up. They're so proud of the work they've done and it really matters to them.

"This is some of the proudest work I've done as a teacher. I can't believe the impact they've had and how wide it's gone within our school.

"They did a Year 7 assembly and afterwards the children spoke with the team about the project and how they can be supported. It's amazing we're going to Wembley but it's more about those conversations and them implementing the programme.

Premier League Inspires, Chelsea, Winston Churchill School

"The team are now ambassadors for other females within school and with the work they've done with the project, you forget where they have come from.

"We've shown their video to the whole school and to the staff, and one of the girls said how lots of teachers stopped her in the corridor to praise the work. She said that she felt like a celebrity!

"A lot of the students who struggle to engage at school don't have much positivity in their school day so these things have a massive impact.

"With PL Inspires the girls are doing things that they never thought they would do, have experiences that they would never have had. But there's also the improvement in self-worth, self-esteem, understanding where they could go and what they're capable of.

"Periods are not a subject that teenagers talk about but the girls are determined to break the stigma. It has had such an impact that the project is going to go on the school's Winston Extra (PSHE) curriculum, with the aim of educating people about how periods can affect the mental and physical health of women and what boys can do to support.

"These girls are not going to stop this project and it will live on. When children leave the school they don't all leave with a legacy but these three absolutely will.

Premier League Inspires, Chelsea, Winston Churchill School

"They've matured in front of our eyes. I watched the film of their Year 7 assembly and I cried like a baby because I was so proud. You can't believe that those three are stood there talking about their periods to a bunch of 300 people so eloquently.

"When I saw them at Wembley I tried hard not to cry again! It's absolutely beautiful. PL Inspires is the best thing that could have happened to those three girls.

"It has sparked something in the girls. One of them is talking about being a barrister which she would not have thought about a year ago. They've seen what success brings, they've seen what making a change feels like."

What is Premier League Inspires?

Premier League Inspires uses the appeal of football to help children and young people aged 11-18 to develop the personal skills and positive attitude to succeed in life. More than 29,000 young people have received more than 125,000 hours of targeted support across 960+ schools and educational facilities since the programme's launch in 2019.

The programme is delivered by 45 professional football club community organisations and is supported by the Professional Footballers' Association and the Premier League. More than £11.1m has been invested into the programme, via the Premier League Charitable Fund.

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