11 Sep 2019

Table tennis is well known for breaking down barriers for the greater good, an example of which can be found at HMP High Down prison in Surrey, England, who are using the sport to help reform those behind bars with great success.

by Simon Daish

Prisoners who possess a positive behaviour record at HMP High Down are invited to take part in weekly table tennis sessions offering match play and coaching assistance courtesy of members from Brighton Table Tennis Club.

The aim of the initiative is to see the foundation of new communities between the attendees whilst also gaining coaching and leadership skills. The results are overwhelmingly positive with violent behaviour figures down a whopping 83%!

Response from those who partake in the programme has also been promising with a positive upturn in social interaction and mental health benefits. One previous attendee spoke about his journey from HMP High Down to a full-time coach and how table tennis can help the younger generation stay preoccupied:

“There’s nothing for these kids to do in Moulsecoomb, so when they see me, they are happy to get involved in something. I’ve been there and it’s tough. Crime is the last thing on my mind – I’ve got so much going on.”

With the initiative proving hugely popular two additional prisons have decided to incorporate it into their curriculum, hoping to see similar results as those posted by HMP High Down.

Read the full story as told by The Guardian here.

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