|Classic 'wax on wax off' scene from the original movie of The Karate Kid|
I HAVE a poignant memory of being 10 or 11 and watching, for the first time, the now classic Karate Kid movie. It will be etched in my brain for two reasons; firstly the trouble my cousin got into afterwards for doing the Crane Kick off a bollard and into the neighbour's wing mirror, and secondly, for the part everyone remembers. That's right... 'Daniel San, wax on... wax off.'
If you haven't had the privilege of watching Mr Miyagi coaching his young student, it goes like this: skinny young guy gets a hard time at his new school. He attempts to teach himself Karate to defend himself. Enter the apartment block care-taker, Mr Miyagi, who takes Daniel under his wing and begins his unconventional approach to learning the basics of the martial art he wants to learn. There is a great deal of painting involved (which subconsciously teaches him about wrist strength and movement) and a host of other seemingly meaningless activities, leading up to the famous 'wax on, wax off scene.' Without Daniel knowing, the time spent with his coach, cleaning a forecourt of cars, was actually equipping him for the fight. He was better and he didn't even know it. What he did know, eventually, was that someone cared enough about him to invest his time and energy into him. Without a dad of his own, this was invaluable.
When I was watching this again recently it reaffirmed the importance of the work we do at A Way Out through our Coach programme. Today we are sharing just one story of how a life has been impacted through this amazing project.
Coach Coordinator Jeanna Spencer, said: "When Jamie was 13 he was referred to A Way Out’s COACH project. His home life was chaotic to say the least, and his attendance was slipping at school.
"Actually when he went to school his behaviour was fine, but family workers were concerned that this would deteriorate, especially as he had witnessed angry and violent behaviour at home. There really weren't many positive role models and with his home environment was being often difficult, those already involved wanted to get someone in to support Jamie and give him focused one-to-one time each week. The hope was to find for him a good role model, genuine support and help to prevent issues from increasing."
This is where A Way Out stepped in. The COACH team try to match young people with Volunteer Coaches who share similar interests with the young person, and who we think they will get on well with.
Jamie was matched with Paul. Now several months into their Coach partnership, they 'clicked' really well from the outset.
"Jamie has some goals he’s hoping to achieve – things he’s always wanted to do, like a Man vs. Food style challenge and visiting a local art gallery – that are related to where he hopes to go in life" Jeanna added.
"He would like to be a graphic designer in future, and his Coach is looking at ways to help him achieve that goal – encouraging him with his academic achievements at school, and looking at what courses he could pursue at College."
But it's not all serious business.
In some of their sessions, Jamie and Paul go and get some food and hang out playing table football or air hockey, and they have even been bowling. On one occassion they learned to make pizza together!
Things that have come up in conversation during the sessions also provide inspiration for future time together. Paul is currently finding ways to help Jamie get over his fear of heights.
For many young people in our nation, there is an absence of someone to show them the way. The picture, opposite, is a sweet reminder though, of how important it is to have someone there to help you through.
Jeanna said: " Not everyone is lucky enough to have both parents. And Jamie has never had a dad at home to coach him through the things any teenage boy would need help with.
"Paul has become a positive male role model for him. He told me, 'He’s like a dad'."
But Jamie isn't the only one to benefit from being a part of the A Way Out Coach programme.
"Paul also gains a lot from knowing that he’s helping Jamie to become more confident in new situations and becoming someone he can trust to talk about what’s going on in his life.
"And It’s stories like this that make our work feel worthwhile – to know that we’re making a difference to young peoples’ lives and helping them get where they want to be is amazing. It’s also an encouragement for those supporting young people who are just beginning that journey and have a long way to go to achieve their goals – this gives us hope to keep going and making the right matches, to be able to build positive relationships with young people who need it!"
This is just a small insight into some of the live changing work we do at A Way Out. Just like in the movie, we have scores of young people now more equipped and more ready for life, simply by being invested in and being cared for.
Of course, to continually run projects like this we not only rely on incredible volunteers but also much-needed finance.
If you think you have what it takes to become a Coach, or to help with any of our projects, sign up to support A Way Out through volunteering, by clicking here:
Or to support us financially from just £1 a week, please click here:
Thank you so much for taking the time to celebrate this amazing story with us. Please share on social networking sites and pass it around your friends and contacts. Together we can make a difference!