HeadStrong

HeadStrong is a gym project that runs for 11 weeks and invites young men aged between 13-18 to become strong through power lifting.

Over three sessions per week, students are trained in how to lift weights safely and with growing confidence and ability. As they work together as part of a cohort of students, so they learn to rely on each other and grow as a community of young men who look out for each other, becoming stronger as part of a ‘brotherhood’.

HeadStrong helps young men to become strong in their bodies, strong in their thinking and strong in their connection

Our Aims

The four aims of HeadStrong are as follows:

CORE

Building CORE strength. Physical strength carries over to well-being, feeling able, feeling positive

COMMUNITY

Building COMMUNITY. Brothers/family – a sense of belonging without judgment

CONFIDENCE

Feeling a greater all-round CONFIDENCE, but specifically an increased confidence in speaking (up) and athleticism

CAPACITY

Increasing CAPACITY in growing resilience and the mental capacity to overcome adversity.

Where we began

HeadStrong began when a team of people from Ashford Vineyard came together, acutely aware of the mental health challenges facing so many young people (particularly teenage boys) today. This has been made worse by the pandemic. In a survey of 2,438 13-25 year olds carried out by Young Minds, 67% of respondents believed that the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health. A report on data gathered by the Millennium Cohort Study (following the lives of around 19,000 young people) said that, “when the 17-year-olds from the cohort were asked if they had ever hurt themselves “on purpose in an attempt to end your life”, 7% replied yes. When asked if they had self-harmed during the previous year, 24% responded that they had.” As for teenage boys and young men, research by the University of Manchester around suicide in under-25s that examined 922 suicides in this age range, a staggering 76% of those were male.

We believe that by inviting young men into a ‘gym’ type space and working with them around the four aims detailed above, a difference can be made.

Trial completed, Stage 2 coming!

After the trial was completed in October ’21, the decision was taken to press ahead with the project. It was a no-brainer really, as the results were so compelling. In CORE, the students showed a 35% increase in weight. In feeling a sense of COMMUNITY, the students reported a 52% increase. For CONFIDENCE, a 35% increase and CAPACITY to deal with difficult life situations, a brilliant 24% increase.

So, stage 2 is planned for spring ’22. Read the report below to find out more about the trial or download a flyer to read more about the project!

More information

There is a flyer available for download here

The report on the first trial, including the outcomes, is available here

If you have any questions, such as wanting to make a donation to the project or wanting to take part in the project, then please email headstrong@ashfordvineyard.org.