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Next Level Sports Conquer Peaks Challenge

Mansfield-led coaches conquer Peaks Challenge to boost mental health of kids

The mental health of schoolchildren is in a better place thanks to the climbing skills of a team of sports coaches, led by a Mansfield man.

The seven-strong team, who work for school sports coaching company Next Level Sports, completed the renowned Derbyshire Three Peaks Challenge.

And they raised more than £1,500 for the mental-health charity Mind, with the aim of stressing the importance of emotional wellbeing in youngsters.

Scott Hardy, 37, of Mansfield who runs Next Level with Luke Smith, 34, explained: “As part of our work in local primary schools, we operate a programme to build up the mental resilience of children.

"This sponsored challenge was just another way of raising awareness of mental-health issues that people don’t want to talk about. It let everyone know that there are charities, such as Mind, out there that can help.This money will benefit Mind Nottinghamshire massively, allowing them to reach more people and extend their services to more groups.”

The Derbyshire Three Peaks Challenge is an attempt to climb the highest peaks in Derbyshire - Bleaklow Head, Higher Shelf Stones and Kinder Scout - in under ten hours.

Scott, his wife Jody, Luke and four other sports coaches, Richard Younger, Rebecca Bateman, Alex West and Megan Keenan, managed it in eight hours, 15 minutes.

"It was tough, but once you get into a rhythm, and as long as you’re in the right frame of mind from the off, you just keep going and get on with it,” said Scott. "And the fact that you are raising money for a good charity is extra motivation.”

The team completed the challenge under the expert guidance of mountain leaders and first-aiders from activities company, High Peak Adventure.

They set up a JustGiving page asking for sponsorship, and 90 supporters have so far contributed an impressive total of £1,534.

It’s the latest feather in the cap for the Nottingham-based Next Level Sports, which has gone from strength to strength since Scott and Luke launched it nine years ago.

"We deliver high-quality PE, school sport, holiday activity camps and teacher training throughout the East Midlands,” explained Scott. "The schools employ us as specialists of various skills and activities. For example, the PE can be anything from dance and gymnastics to athletics and handball. We started off with just a handful of coaches, but we have grown gradually. We now have ten employees and ten part-time coaches, and we cover a total of 29 primary schools, who love what we are doing.”

It’s all about improving the health and wellbeing of children through physical activity. But Next Level has found an increasing demand for its resilience programme, which focuses more on mental health.

Scott said: "We deal with key stage two kids predominantly, and they are usually referred to us by the teachers. They might be children who have certain behavioural issues, or are struggling to get along in classes, or who just need a confidence boost. Our coaching helps them develop their emotional resilience. For example, how to cope with certain situations, how their energy might affect their emotions and also the importance of looking after themselves through good hygiene or a good diet.”

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