A breakdown of family life and bullying at school severely impacted the mental wellbeing of Jasmine Ford.
Struggling with low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, this also meant she rarely participated in physical exercise. Fast forward to 2021 and Jasmine is now coaching Bath Ladies Mixed Ability Rugby Team.
Jasmine is one of six outstanding young individuals who have been named a HITZ Hero 2021 by Premiership Rugby, in recognition of their achievements despite the challenges of lockdown.
HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s flagship education and employability programme, working with more than 2,000 14-23 year-olds across England every year. The aim of HITZ is to help young people classified as NEET (not in education, employment or training) turn their lives around through gaining qualifications and developing their personal, employability and life skills.
Passionate about animal care, Jasmine struggled at college as her experiences at school left her finding it hard to socially interact and build relationships. A conversation with a college tutor led Jasmine to HITZ and the start of her journey to better mental health.
Since joining HITZ she has progressed well and is working towards distinction level on her NCFE level 2 sports course, a great achievement for someone who openly admits to not enjoying sports before joining HITZ. Not only does she now regularly participate in sport and physical activity, she is also now coaching her peers and the Mixed Ability Ladies Rugby team at Bath. Jasmine plans, delivers and coaches a group of 20+ mixed ability rugby players once a week offering them the chance to experience the same benefits she has found from sport.
The HITZ Heroes 2021 awards are a celebration of triumph over adversity during the last 12 months. Each has their own individual story but what unites the six heroes is their determination to overcome barriers to unlock their own potential.
Mia Suter from Bath Rugby Foundation nominated Jasmine for a HITZ Hero award in recognition of the barriers she has overcome and the progress she makes daily.
“Jaz really struggled during the lockdown due to the lack of social interaction after working hard to build relationships with peers in her class. Although she struggled before joining HITZ, she has built amazing bonds with fellow classmates often taking on the role of support for those who are in need. Jaz has helped a number of other learners with issues they face regardless of how much she may also be struggling.”
“Jaz is a pivotal member of the team. She presents as a true role model and is extremely caring to all her peers. Jaz has come very far in her journey with HITZ, continuing to work daily on her own challenges and fears. Winning this will hopefully help her to see all the hard work she is putting in is worth it and allow others to see that no matter what stands in your way, if you want something enough you will get it.”
With the Government reporting unemployment for young people increasing by 11% since the start of the pandemic, and that by the end of last year there were an estimated 800,000 16-24 year-olds in the UK classified as NEET, Premiership Rugby’s commitment to supporting and developing individuals like this has only become more steadfast.
Wayne Morris, Community and Corporate Social Responsibility Director at Premiership Rugby said: “My congratulations go out to Jasmine. Her journey from not being physically active to now coaching Mixed Ability Rugby is amazing and I have no doubt that her personal experience helps her inspire the players on the team.”
Jasmine has worked hard to overcome her anxieties especially during lockdown to keep herself on track. To say life can be tough for some young people is a bit of an understatement, and this has only been compounded by the pandemic. Pausing the delivery of HITZ during lockdown was not an option for us and with the help of our partner clubs like Bath we have continued to provide much needed support.”
Supported by the CVC Foundation, Wooden Spoon and SCL Education Group, nearly 16,000 young people have engaged in the HITZ programme since it was created in 2008.
Marc Boughton from The CVC Foundation added: “Jasmine should be so proud of what she has achieved. Her success is exactly why the CVC Foundation supports HITZ. The HITZ programme is one of the most impactful ways of helping young people to turn their lives around and setting them on a good path for a better future.”