An innovative new scheme to help young people to tackle obesity, depression and social isolation has been launched in Milton Keynes.
The innovative partnership between MK Dons Sport and Education Trust (SET), and NHS Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Integrated Care Board and Milton Keynes Council brings together coaches, mentors and mental health professionals to help young people learn new skills, develop confidence and transform their lives, so they can live healthier lives.
The programme offers young people a safe place to talk about their thoughts, feelings and mental health self-management techniques, while playing and developing their football skills.
Kelly Day, Inclusion Manager, MK Dons Sport Education Trust, said:
“We are very proud to support this scheme. Many young people experience everyday battles that we often can’t see. Through the power of football, we’re helping young people from all backgrounds in Milton Keynes to break down barriers, get active and take steps to helping to manage their own mental health. It’s a scheme that’s never been more important and we’re proud to be breaking down barriers with the young people who enlist on our course.”
“J” is a refugee from Afghanistan and lives in Milton Keynes. He has struggled with his mental health for some time and decided to attend the programme after MK Dons SET contacted his community following a request for mental health and wellbeing support in the refugee community by local GPs.
J attended the first session, bringing along a few friends from his community. They did not have the correct footwear so were given football boots to ensure they were able to take part. He provided a vital role throughout the sessions, translating the conversation for his friends so they were able to understand the instructions from the coaches and to enjoy the full experience of a training session including coaching drills and a match.
The sessions enabled J to play football regularly, significantly improving his fitness so that he can complete a full session without being exhausted. He has also seen an improvement in his confidence to go out more, grow his friendship groups and make better choices with his diet.
“Since being in England, I have found it hard to be happy. MK Dons SET have helped me with this by letting me play football and helping me with the football boots. I recommend this to anyone. It does help and I have now found some more friends.”
This scheme is open to people who live in Milton Keynes and you can self-refer by registering at your first session. Details of the sessions can be found here – Football Over Mind (mkdonsset.com)