Bedford student to tackle mental health in primary schools with martial arts mindfulness project

He has set up a crowdfunder after initial funding fell through due to the pandemic

By Clare Turner
Tuesday, 6th October 2020, 2:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th October 2020, 1:48 pm

A Masters student from the University of Bedfordshire has developed a sports initiative to tackle mental health in primary school pupils - using elements of martial arts.

Bedford's Alex Stark is hoping to get crowdfunding for the mindfulness project after a community fund previously secured was withdrawn due to Covid-19.

While previously studying BA (Hons) Sport and Physical Education as an undergraduate at the University of Bedfordshire, Alex set up the Active Time School Kids (ATSK) coaching company in January 2018.

Alex Stark

Alex said: “I identified that there is no real support for helping younger age children cope with mental health issues and how they can gain strategies for a lifetime’s worth of support.

“By tackling the issues at an early age, we can help the children affected by mental health concerns to understand coping methods which will help them throughout their whole life. The added benefits will also help tackle issues such as eating disorders, obesity and how to avoid gang culture as we give children the self-esteem and confidence to make positive choices in their lives.”

Alex launched the company after identifying a need for less traditional sports to be delivered alongside usual extra curriculum activities.

And after implementing a successful non-fighting martial arts programme in schools across Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire in 2019, he teamed up with the Association of Traditional Shotokan Karate, run by his father Kevin in Bedford. And over the past few months, they have developed a programme to deliver a martial arts-inspired mindfulness project.

Active Time School Kids has developed a programme to deliver a martial arts-inspired mindfulness project

The father and son team hope to introduce this programme to schools across the region from early 2021.

But after the project’s original community funding fell through due to the pandemic, Alex and his father have launched a Just Giving page with a target of £10,000.

Alex said: “This much-needed funding will cover the costs of paying for equipment and resources, as well as paying the dedicated staff who’ll be delivering the mindfulness project’s programme in schools. ”

Visit their Just Giving page here