Published: 08:25, 12 July 2018
An innovative charity which encourages youngsters who struggle in mainstream education to fulfil their potential by designing and creating skateboards, is set to expand across the county.
Since being founded in Canterbury in 2009, it has helped more than 1,200 students gain vital qualifications - picking up a string of top awards in the process.
Now, in addition to its existing sites in Canterbury and on the John Wilson Business Park in Whitstable, work is currently under way on a base in Folkestone while talks continue for a fourth in north Kent.
Explains Andrea Lewis, its business manager: "Skateboard deck building and design provides a unique learning opportunity which has been tailored to suit young people who struggle to learn in mainstream education.
"Therefore, emphasis is on creating a positive attachment to learning, whilst developing and motivating young people to better their lives."
Set up as a charity, its latest accolade was winning the Business Commitment to the Community award at the Kent Excellence in Business Awards (KEiBA) in June.
Founder and CEO Brent Lewis explains: "Many students who are drawn to the academy have a passion for the practical side of the courses, for the art and design, the woodwork and the vision of becoming an entrepreneur.
"Not all of the students are even skaters but the mix of experiences and lifestyles, makes for a well-balanced and innovative atmosphere. We are very proud of our 100% pass rate for the business and enterprise course.
"In order to remain successful we need to continue to provide an effective service to the young people within our communities. We need to ensure that they receive the individual, specialist support that we have promised them, so that they can achieve their qualification and provide them with the opportunity of a positive future."
It also sells skateboards - with the money going back into its endeavours - through its farskate.co.uk website.
In addition, it is also seeking corporate sponsorship to allow it to flourish further.
Former teacher Mr Lewis adds: "We have a strong commitment to foster lasting improvements in society, with an emphasis on supporting and empowering youth."
Other awards include winning both the Canterbury and county Team of the Year awards at the KM Teacher of the Year Awards, as well as a gong in the Canterbury Business Awards
Open to any young person, irrespective of previous education, qualifications, previous behaviour or special needs, its philosophy is to break down barriers in education and to offer any young person the chance to learn.
The charity is now fundraising in the hope of purchasing new machinery and screen printing equipment to enable their students to produce top quality products to sell as part of their business and enterprise course.
As part of its growth, from September, it will work alongside the Shepway Sports Trust to provide alternative exercise provision for primary school pupils.
Pupils will learn all of the fundamentals of skateboarding with qualified instructors teaching the principles of skateboarding like how to balance, push, turn and, importantly, how to stop.
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