A SCOTS school has used parkour to improve the performance of troubled teens.
The sport of parkour includes feats of fast-moving acrobatics and gymnastics in an urban setting.
The sport exploded in popularity after the opening scene of 2006 Bond film Casino Royale – in which Daniel Craig pursues an acrobatic villain through an urban maze, before a violent showdown on top of a crane.
Now a 15-strong group of youngsters have had their grades improved and their confidence boosted after being taught the exciting physical activity as a part of their official school timetable.
St Joseph’s Academy in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, introduced parkour onto the curriculum in January – giving a group of S3 students the chance to spend two hours every Tuesday on the demanding sport.
The students were selected for the course as a result of “social issues” and because they “had a hard time fitting in with the set curriculum”, according to the school’s head of PE Andrew Boyle.
Mr Boyle explained that the school bussed in local parkour instructor Scott Houston to take the class – and that he had to earn the respect of the students.
In the first week of the project Mr Houston asked the students to vault over a box in any way they could.
“One of the boys said, ‘You get over it then’”, Mr Boyle remembers.
“He went up, did a backflip and they went, ‘Aye, ok.’”
“From then on he had them because of how good he was. They googled him and went, ‘Wow, look at what he can do.’”
The team of students have already presented a parkour routine in front of a 700-strong audience at the East Ayrshire Dance Festival – and will take the same show to the Scottish Learning Festival next month.
And the students have revealed that participating in the programme has driven massive improvements in their schoolwork.
One student in the programme, Kieran Orr, 14, said that parkour had helped him to improve in English and Maths.
After mastering the art gravity-defying backflips, he said: “You’re no’ scared of doing stuff.”
Another 14 year-old, Andrew Gaughan, said that the problem-solving and team-building aspect of the sport has helped him most.
Experts say the physical activity can give students a confidence boost, with National Theatre Scotland associate director Sime Sharkey saying: “It is a bit macho, so it gives boys a platform to express themselves without being stigmatised.”