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International launch celebrates success of University-led project in improving lives of young people

University of Gloucestershire’s Dr Adeela Shafi MBE was a key speaker at the international launch of the Active Games for Change programme that helps young people in conflict with the law to develop social and emotional competencies.

Dr Shafi, who led the University team and coordinated the EU funded project with 10 partners in seven European countries, informed the audience at the launch in Brussels about  how the data showed that Active Games for Change (AG4C) had improved well-being and social and emotional competencies during the three-year piloting stage.

Dr Shafi, Associate Professor within the University’s School of Education and Humanities, was joined by Keith Fraser, the Chair of the Youth Justice Board for England, and Revd Steve Chalke, the founder of Oasis Trust UK and Oasis Restore, the first Secure School in the UK.

The international launch included representatives from the University’s partners on the programme in Portugal, Italy, Spain, Romania, Hungary and Turkey.

Last month, the University hosted the UK National Seminar to provide anyone involved in youth justice with an insight into plans to implement the ambitious programme across Europe.

Dr Shafi said: “Active Games For Change, which has involved staff from the University’s School of Sport and Exercise and School of Education and Humanities, aimed to develop social, emotional and civic competencies in young people who are in custodial or other youth justice settings and we are delighted that the results from across the partner countries have been positive.

“Experts from the two Schools designed and delivered fun, active and engaging games that develop individuals’ coping mechanisms, including anger management, teamwork, and becoming more aware of the outcomes of their potential actions.

“At the launch, speakers provided their insights into new directions in youth justice, policy making and the value of sport in improving the lives of young people in conflict with the law.

“As well as academics and policy makers, guests were treated to presentations from practitioners from across Europe who are involved in youth justice which provided a real sense of how the project worked day-to-day and were the best possible endorsement of the games themselves.

“We now look to the future of the project where project partners and pilot settings have committed to carrying the project forward and each have their own plans to ensure that Active Games for Change can continue to improve lives across Europe for many years to come.”

Picture: Dr Adeela Shafi MBE at the international launch of the Active Games for Change programme