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Kids' army miracle-workers

PUBLISHED: 16:57 22 April 2009 | UPDATED: 10:50 12 August 2010

A TEACHER has hailed a boot camp-style programme for youngsters as a miracle worker . Amanda Richards, who teaches at Phoenix Centre in Longfield, heaped praise on Challenger Troop Programme (CTP), which operates in schools throughout Bromley. Launched

A TEACHER has hailed a boot camp-style programme for youngsters as a "miracle worker".

Amanda Richards, who teaches at Phoenix Centre in Longfield, heaped praise on Challenger Troop Programme (CTP), which operates in schools throughout Bromley.

Launched in July 2007, CTP is a not-for-profit organisation which takes pupils aged 11 to 15 out of school for military-style, outdoor pursuits.

It aims to reduce truancy and exclusions from schools, bring down levels of offending, boost participants' confidence and enhance employment prospects.

Nancy Stanger, a student support worker at Kelsey Park Sports College in Manor Way, Beckenham, said: "It is really good for team-building, building self-esteem, focus and self-discipline. The kids take responsibility for their behaviour.

"It is advantageous that there are male role models who are really firm and strict but also encouraging. That's really important, because a lot of the kids lack a role model at home." The 38-year-old added: "It's a miracle-worker."

CTP staff offer the service to schools, with teachers suggesting potential candidates, who, if willing, apply to take part.

Students involved have come from Dartford ACP, Swanley Technology College, Northfleet Technology College and Cator Park School in Bromley.

One day a week, for 12 weeks, participants are taken to locations such as TA centres, Forestry Commission and military sites. Activities include navigation, survival, bush craft, team building, leadership training and shelter building.

They wear a uniform and are given strict rules that they must adhere to or risk expulsion, but they can also be promoted for good work and gain accredited awards.

Jo Morris, partnerships coordinator at CTP, which is based in Maidstone and operates throughout Kent, said: "The course is about getting kids to believe they can achieve something.

"A lot of these kids have come from incredibly hard backgrounds and need to rake back some self-esteem.

"We give them clear boundaries and I think they appreciate that. We build up some good relationships and the kids often confide in us. We're just giving them the opportunity to reach their potential."

The programme is run in partnership with Kent Education Authority's attendance and behaviour department, schools and councils. For more information, call 01892 543150, email challenger.troop@btinternet.com or visit www.challengertroop.org.

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