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Athlete inspires pupils with skills and drills on visit to Mark Hall Academy

Retired sprinter and current 60m British record holder Jeanette Kwakye shared her career journey and got pupils involved with a variety of athletics drills to teach key skills for success during a recent visit to Mark Hall Academy in Harlow.

Working alongside 20 Year 7 and Year 8 pupils, Ms Kwakye helped them to develop their teamwork, leadership, confidence and resilience skills. Pupils were put through their paces as they participated in a series of athletic drills and took to the track to work on perfecting the art of the ‘sprint’ including advice from Ms Kwakye on technique and mindset.

Ms Kwakye visited the academy in her capacity as Athlete Mentor for the Sky Sports Living for Sport programme, run in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust. The programme supports schools with visits from world-class Athlete Mentors to share their inspiring stories and teach students about the ‘Six Keys to Success’, identified by athletes as the top life-skills that have enabled them to achieve success in sport. Ms Kwakye shared the many secrets of her success as well as educating pupils about the key skills, which include ‘mental toughness’, ‘sports and life knowledge and ‘breaking barriers’.

The visit attracted much praise from pupils:

  • Stephen Baffour, who joined Year 8 at academy in April, said, “I thought it was fun and exciting to meet Jeanette. I learnt a lot about new skills and techniques in Athletics and hope to use this in my sprinting.”
  • Oliver Carter, Year 8, said, “Jeanette was proof that you don’t have to be born with the talent, but that it can come with hard work. You don’t have to know now what you want to do as Jeanette started running at a later age. This inspired me.”
  • Natasha Cohen, Year 8, said, “It taught me you don’t have to be the best at a young age but by working hard you can achieve your potential and your dreams.”

Jeanette Kwakye commented: “Sky Sports Living for Sport gives me the opportunity to share my story with young people who may never think that success is achievable. I struggle to think how my life would be without doing something that I adore. It has given me vital life skills and experiences that I never would’ve learnt without my sport – I’m excited about sharing these with the young people I meet.”

Victoria Butler, Vice Principal at Mark Hall Academy commented: “This is not just about sport; it is about learning ‘how to do life’. It is about inspiring our young people, it is about opportunity, it is about opening door and lifting barriers. It is about giving young people the chance to succeed and develop lifelong skills. I am truly proud of our young people, every day they teach me something about life. It was a fantastic day and one the pupils will remember for the rest of their lives.”

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