A former world boxing champion got back in the gym recently to encourage young people using sport to improve their mental health and well-being.
Belfast bantamweight Ryan Burnett visited the Oasis Caring in Action project in Antrim to meet participants of their Youth Ways programme.
He put the youngsters through their paces as part of a new campaign to raise awareness of National Lottery funding to good causes in Northern Ireland.
The organisation received a National Lottery grant for an initiative to help young people who are disengaged from mainstream education.
The scheme offers a number of activities to help improve their life skills such as fitness and drama, in addition, to English and maths lessons.
Ryan, who was homeless for a spell before rising to the top of his sport, took charge of a boxing session at the MMA Heat gym in Antrim before travelling to the charity’s offices where he shared his own experiences of growing up and becoming a unified world champion.
Ryan said: “Positive mental and physical health are extremely important issues especially among young people.
“Organisations such as Oasis Caring in Action deserve tremendous credit for the work they do in the community and it was a real pleasure to meet them and their young people today. I felt I could relate to them as I was once in their position too. My message to them is life is all about choices and making the right ones.
“Boxing has helped me have a great life and their lives can be improved if they make the right decisions and don’t give up. This was a fantastic opportunity for me to see the impact of their work and how they have used National Lottery funding to make a real difference to the lives of those who attend their centre.”
Jennifer Todd, centre manager at Oasis Caring in Action in Antrim, said: “We were delighted to welcome Ryan Burnett to one of our fitness sessions. He is a great role model for our young people.
“At Oasis we aim to re-engage young people and equip them with skills and knowledge to overcome the challenges they face and make positive changes in their lives.
“National Lottery funding has been vital in order for us to carry out this important work.”
Jonathan Tuchner, from the National Lottery, said: “National Lottery players have raised a staggering £1 billion for more than 20,000 good causes in Northern Ireland. The Oasis Caring in Action project is a brilliant example of an organisation who put people at its heart and change lives for the better.”