The Gallagher Premiership is celebrating the league's award-winning community programmes in Round 22 as part of the Community Weekend.
These include Project Rugby, HITZ and Premiership Rugby Champions, which benefit around 250,000 people annually, helping young individuals to change their lives for a brighter future.
Read how the Leicester Tigers Foundation and HITZ helped to change the life of Lewis Reeve.
Lewis Reeve was devastated when injury left him in limbo after a failed medical assessment to enter the Army. In a bid to use his time productively whilst he recovered, Lewis turned to The Leicester Tigers Foundation's HITZ programme.
After leaving school at just 16 years old with next to no qualifications, Lewis knew gaining employment whilst waiting for his next opportunity to enter the Army would be challenging. With opportunities to gain work experience and complete qualifications like his English GCSE, Lewis saw the advantage of signing up to HITZ.
HITZ is the award-winning education and employability programme delivered through the network of Premiership Rugby Clubs and Club Foundations. The programme uses the power of community to support young people not in education, employment or training to change their futures by gaining invaluable qualifications and skills to go forward in life.
Since it started back in 2008, the HITZ programme has helped over 21,000 14 – 24-year-olds across England. A specific focus on understanding young people and nurturing their goals by listening to what is important to them, along with an environment very different to mainstream education, has resulted in many participants describing HITZ as a family. With positive role models dedicating time to these young people, treating them with respect and being there for them through tough times, HITZ students leave the programme better equipped to navigate their next steps in life and carve out a clear path for independence.
Lewis is just one inspirational young person being celebrated during Round 22 of Gallagher Premiership Rugby (April 14 - 16). Over the weekend, all games will be dedicated to the award-winning community programmes run by the 11 Clubs and Club Foundations. In a celebration of how rugby has the power to change lives, every club will showcase the community work taking place, sharing stories of some of the individuals supported on these programmes, and people who make them possible.
After only a short time on HITZ, Lewis successfully passed his Level 2 Functional Skills in English, achieved a Level 2 BTEC in Work Skills and received a Level 1 Sports Leadership award. Testament to his hard work and determination Lewis also completed 120 hours of work experience whilst studying at the Coalville and Whitwick Leisure Centre.
Speaking about the programme, Lewis said: ‘‘HITZ has given me loads more confidence and showed me there are other opportunities out there, not just the Army. It was awesome doing work experience with personal trainers and I think this would be a good career for me if I don’t stay in the Army."
After his positive time on HITZ Lewis unsurprisingly secured a place at the Army Foundation College in Harrogate to complete basic training. With an unwavering ambition to join the SAS, after basic training, Lewis will take the next step on his journey by training at Catterick to join the Coldstream Guards.
Premiership Rugby Community & CSR Director Wayne Morris added: ‘’Hearing Lewis’ story reinforces why we are committed to future-proofing programmes like HITZ at Premiership Rugby. We believe everyone can benefit from the core values of rugby and it has the power to change lives."
"The programme provides opportunities for young people to gain qualifications and carve out their next steps. Lewis had the determination, which our team supported and nurtured at a time when he might have become disillusioned, to help him on his way!’’