Practice & Values
Enrichment. Education. Empowerment.
What we do
We are a community of students, graduates and a diverse range of others sharing our vision, seeking to address educational inequalities in Ireland. Our inspiration is urban squash, the out of school youth enrichment and development model that combines the sport of squash with academic support, mentoring, extracurricular activities, engagement with the community and further education placement for local children, most in need. In due course, once funding has been secured and participants are fully engaged, each after-school session will consist of:
Combined with a year-long focus on:
= a unique process of after-school enrichment and development.
How we will do it
Squash Link is Ireland’s first youth enrichment programme offering after-school educational support and embracing the disciplined game of squash to help transform motivated and talented students in under-served communities into confident athletes, productive, responsible citizens and future leaders.
By fostering the values of respect, commitment, dedication, honesty, compassion and integrity we will strive to ensure the necessary well-being, balance and strength of character required in support of each and every child selected to participate in our programme.
Launching educational and athletic youth development programmes to provide life-changing opportunities to young people from low-income families, initially in Dublin, Squash Link aims to address the needs of the most vulnerable children in society. Our programme will invest deeply in time and resources, getting to know each individual concerned. From the outset we will be driven by encouraging all programme participants to be themselves in the context of a highly disciplined framework of reciprocity.
A key goal of Squash Link is to inspire positive developments in the decision-making capacity of participants, to instil vital and necessary confidence in the process of making decisions on the court and off it: an essential life-skill. We will assist participants in developing the creativity, aspirations, resilience and empathy to engage with others. A strong focus will be on enhancing positive attitudes to being active and to sport, improving physical skills, increasing confidence and knowledge of healthy lifestyles whilst developing a sense of belonging.
Our philosophy is one of embracing every available opportunity to develop the social and cultural capital of Squash Link team members and their families.
Programmes will plant a seed of expectation that each student will successfully complete school and commence third level education, catapulting them to new heights in terms of educational attainment, personal development and fulfilment. Our participants will be thinking from the outset that they are at the centre of a long term proposition, equipping them with the necessary tools to make informed decisions in life.
Squash Link will adopt a multi-dimensional approach to self-development and enrichment: education in the form of after-school, weekend and summer programmes; mentoring through a diverse range of role models, from within and outside the programme; community engagement; nutrition/healthy living; and the sport of squash.
Holistic in its aims, this intensive year-round programme will begin for students as early as 6 years of age with the aim of lasting through school, work experience placements, post-school employment and third level education. The support and guidance of mentoring, combined with an emphasis on concern for others and the value of service, infuse every aspect of the enrichment process.
Inspiration from New York City
SEA - the Squash + Education Alliance - is a network of independent, nonprofit programmes in cities such as Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Santa Barbara and San Diego. The first programme, Boston's SquashBusters, began in 1996, and the concept has reached a great number of American cities, steadily growing ever since. Programmes outside the United States include Egoli Squash in South Africa, Khelshala in India, Squash Urbano Columbia, Cartagena, Columbia and Urban Squash Toronto, Canada.
Tim Wyant, Executive Director of NUSEA describes the urban squash and education model as being “an inch wide and mile deep”, enabling students to maintain good health and physical fitness, engage in the community and travel outside it, complete school, explore work placement opportunities and enter third level education with the assistance of a range of initiatives.
The goal of Squash Link is not, and will never be, to reach large numbers of Ireland’s youth. By necessity, our philosophy is to engage in long-term and intensive work with a limited number of children. This is not to say we do not have deeply ambitious targets. On the contrary, a strong focus for Squash Link will be the values underpinning human rights, duties and responsibilities: a framework of life-long learning geared towards fully-fledged citizenship, self-esteem development and the optimization of well-being. It will ultimately focus on preparing students for post-school and graduation employment, empowering each individual to maximize their leadership potential whilst allowing them to identify with and participate fully in society.
Our students will participate in tournaments in Dublin and in due course beyond. Travel in satisfaction of sporting, academic and cultural programme pursuits, within and outside of Ireland, is keenly anticipated.
Nutrition and Fitness
Squash requires fit minds and bodies. Nutrition and health will be a central part of our curriculum.
Selected participants will be encouraged to give back to their communities by participating in a range of engagement initiatives.
Young people are growing up at a time when they face increasingly complex challenges and hurdles. We know that poor mental health affects a significant proportion of young people and they will face labour markets which require them to demonstrate effective social and emotional competencies and capabilities. Life’s daily trials require young people to rebound from setbacks and willingly face challenges.
Squash Link's programmes will embrace the importance of persistence, self-motivation and confidence as resilience traits that are key factors in optimizing life chances, not least by improving educational attainment. From the moment students join Squash Link, we will focus their minds on going to a third level institution and provide them with the support they need to make this a reality. Our vehicles for maximizing such potential will include intensive coaching, mentoring and teaching.