Sports scheme to tackle anti-social behaviour hailed a success by police
Police praised the young people who took part in a new StreetGames project.
The project launched in the underground car park in Peterlee Town Centre this week.
Several organisations came together to set up the StreetGames scheme, which is aimed at tackling anti-social behaviour in the centre.
The first of the sessions, which are aimed at ten to 16-year-olds was held last night and hailed a huge success.
Michelle Burr, Peterlee PCSO for Durham Police, said almost 50 young people took part and the games were very energetic.
She added: "The young people were impeccably behaved and exuded positivity in a community where they very often face criticism.
"Thanks to all our partners who contributed and made the event a success in our battle to combat anti-social behaviour in the town."
PCSO Burr said the boys and girls chose a number of sports, including cricket, football, badminton, bulldog and circuits.
Peterlee StreetGames is a project which has arisen from the desperate need to reduce anti-social behaviour in the town centre and follows on from the success of other schemes that engage troubled youths such as the Groundwork Youth Provision, Peterlee Community Garden and the Sliding Door Project.
The activities will be largely led by young people who attend the Groundwork Youth Provision, who are aged 14 and above, and have been trained as sports activators.
PCSO Burr, said: "We believe sport has a critical part to play in addressing the issues faced by those living in the poorest communities.
"We want this project to be led by young people and for them to take ownership of it, with the support of our staff, Groundwork staff and local volunteers, and completely make it their own.
"Sport teaches key skills such as teamwork, understanding and self-discipline, brings people together, creates pride in a community, breaks down social boundaries, and inspires people to make a difference in their own lives and for others.
"We are confident these sessions can empower young people to kick-start a cycle of positive change that echoes throughout their entire community."
The project has been funded for the next 13 weeks by County Durham Housing Group and is being supported by Durham Constabulary, Peterlee Town Council, Castle Dene Shopping Centre, McDonald’s, ASDA and StreetGames.
Suzanne Chaney, centre manager at Castle Dene, said: "The centre has become a hot spot for anti-social behaviour in recent years.
"Young people tend to spend their evenings hanging around the centre with nothing to do but cause trouble, so we thought why not try and engage them with something positive.
"The aim of Peterlee Street Games is to help make our community healthier, safer and more successful through the power of sport, and the car park is undercover so we can run the activities come rain or shine."
The sessions are completely free to attend and will run every Tuesday evening from 7pm to 8pm until May 7, with the hopes of continuing it even further if the initiative is successful and funding can be secured.