My vision

Building confidence in our community

For some time I have been contemplating means and methods to build confidence in our community, where issues related to a lack of self-confidence and self-esteem can be seen to be linked to academic under-performance, gang membership, abusive marriages, criminality, extremism and other social ills.

One of my ideas is to develop a coaching programme running over a number of weeks in local communities, which culminates in a final challenge event held regionally. Such a programme, I believe, could have long-lasting, positive results for our communities. Here is an outline of my thinking so far:

Summary

  • A flexible nine week programme is developed by a coalition of community groups and volunteers.
  • The programme is delivered independently by local community groups in participating localities.
  • The programme culminates in a 5K obstacle course challenge in the countryside, in which each of the local community groups compete as a team.

Programme Development

Interested community organisations, as well as expert volunteers and specialists, work together to develop a nine week personal development programme.

The focus is on physical exercise, team building, goal setting and spiritual wellbeing, with the aim of promoting:

  • self-confidence
  • cooperation
  • trust
  • effective communication
  • commitment
  • leadership
  • moderation
  • community spirit
  • appreciation of our natural environment
  • support for charitable causes
  • good citizenship
  • development of new skills
  • setting and achieving goals

The programme may be designed for different age groups and abilities, or it may be targeted at a particular group. Either way, it should be designed for participants with no previous experience of the proposed activities.

Elements of the NHS Couch to 5K running programme may be incorporated into the programme, which provides a gradual, stepped approach towards increasing fitness and stamina.

The programme would include indoor and outdoor activities which can be delivered during a 90 minute session once a week.

Each session would be given a theme which ties the hands-on activities to spiritual reflection and growth. Sessions might broadly adhere to the following format:

  • Arrival
  • Opening du’a
  • Overview of session
  • Warm up
  • Team activity
  • Reflections on session
  • Discussion
  • Departure

The following are examples of possible sessions:

Hold Fast to the Rope

This session meditates on the Quranic passage, “And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided…” (Surat Al-Imran 3:103)

It is an outdoor session comprising either a night time walk or a walk undertaken while blindfolded, in which participants must negotiate relatively awkward terrain with only a rope line as a guide. A long rope will be threaded through trees, over obstacles and muddy ground, for an activity lasting for approximately twenty minutes.

The purpose of the session is to teach the importance of adhering to divine guidance, trusting in God’s wisdom even when we cannot see the path before us and acting together towards a common goal.

An inspiring reflection will be delivered to the group and participants will be encouraged to talk about their experience during the session and beyond.

Hitting the Target

This will be one of a few sessions which introduce participants to the noble art of archery, which is a confirmed Sunnah. Participants will learn about bow and arrow safety, and the equipment and techniques, before taking part in some archery practice and simple games.

The purpose of this session is to teach the importance of making preparations and exerting effort in order to achieve fixed goals.

 

In all cases, a balanced programme must be provided, addressing both the participants’ physical and spiritual needs. As far as possible the programme will take advantage of the natural environment and look to draw on the metaphor or parables of activities in relation to spiritual growth. However the programme should have room for manoeuvre and not be proscriptive and inflexible.

Programme Delivery

Once the programme has been developed, it will be adopted and delivered by local community groups (e.g. Scouts, Youth Clubs, Charities) in each participating locality. Larger towns may have several groups run by different organisations.

Individual groups are autonomous and have the flexibility to deliver the programme according to their specific needs, culture and environment, while still adhering to the general principles and timetable.

Each group, which meets for a 90 minute session once a week, will grow together as a team as they progress through the programme.

It will be the responsibility of each organisation to ensure they meet legal requirements (e.g. CRB checks) and decide how they structure groups (e.g. for different age groups). There might be separate groups in localities for 16-18 age group and adults, for example.

It will also be the responsibility of each organisation to administrate programme entry and any fees associated with the cost of running the programme.

Challenge

The programme culminates in a 5K obstacle course challenge in the countryside, in which each of the teams compete.

There are separate races at different times on the same day to accommodate different groups. For example:

  • First wave – female only
  • Second wave – families / mixed teams
  • Third wave – male only

The event includes running, problem solving, archery, climbing, rope, balancing and crawling elements. For example:

Low Ropes

Teams must cross part of the course by balancing on low ropes (feet on lower rope, chest height rope as hand guide).

Archery Challenge

Teams cannot move on from the archery station until they achieve a predefined score by hitting the target.

 

Some teams may use the challenge as a fundraising opportunity for the cause of their choice, but sponsorship is optional.

The event includes pre-race motivational talk by respected teachers and post-race barbecue and entertainment.

The obstacle course is likely created by event management specialists such as Ibn Battuta Expeditions or One Step Beyond to ensure that the course meets Health and Safety requirements, is responsibly staffed and is covered by public liability insurance, etc.

Precedent

Bolton Council of Mosques – Personal Development Assault Course (women and girls) – 2010, 2012

Ribat Institute – Military Assault Course Fundraiser (men) – 2014

Al Isharah – Deaf Run (separate race for men and women) – 2012, 2013, 2014

FAB Foundation – Girls’ 5K (girls) – 2009 to present

Feedback

 If you have any thoughts on this concept, please do share them with me.

6 thoughts on “My vision”

  1. I have witnessed excellent results when groups of people are gathered together with an authentic (real-life) challenge placed before them, so kind of pressing task that removes the plastic wrapping if you will and necessitates team-work and togetherness. There is an approach in language learning which you may be familiar with called task based learning which posits that real challenges produce real learning. I wonder if there is a way to make the final project practical and relevant to the lives of the participants, which could benefit society, and demonstrate quite how meaningful the skills they have been exposed to during the sessions are when placed in a pressured (ish!) situation? Just thoughts forgive me for rambling! May you be granted tremendous success!

  2. AA
    I think there is mileage in this as I know from small scale experience with this sort of approach (as detailed privately), it is something that can work. What is important is that it should be families together as this really helps strengthen bonds. The communal living gave everyone the sense of belonging to a community which reinforced identity in a positive way. We have done long weekends with similar programme almost every couple of years since late 80s, early 90s and the children who were tiny tots when they first participated are now young adults – well adjusted and positively contributing to their communities and wider society.

  3. Assalamu ‘alaykum.

    I personally feel that there are already enough courses along these lines. For example, I know the Muslim Council of Britain offers such a course.

    What will keep young Muslims from being attracted to extremism is a proper philosophy of Islam for a multi-faith world and the means to teach it in mainstream schools where Muslim young people spend much of their time.

    1. Salams. The focus is on building self-confidence and self-esteem, the lack of which manifests itself in many ways. I went to the top school in my region and yet emerged from my education with zero self-confidence, which has effected me throughout my adult life. I see the aim of this programme as being to supplement rather than supplant existing provisions. Like Multi-Vitamins for the soul.

  4. Assalamu alykum wa rahmatullah,

    If it is managed well it could contribute to a healthy human interaction which is good for the individuals and also to the community

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