When we met Jo just under eleven months ago, her attendance at school was well below average. She had started to find it increasingly difficult to control her emotions, which in turn caused her relationships with peers and teachers to suffer. Her own personal wellbeing was also being affected, Jo became tearful and angry when at school, so she started to make excuses to not go in - she hadn’t slept well, she felt ill.

When Jo was in school, she was getting into trouble. She would misbehave in lessons responding negatively to instruction, which resulted in her getting into shouting matches with teachers and being sent out of the classroom on a regular basis. Jo’s mum Angela was being called into the school almost every week to have a conversation about her daughter’s attendance and behaviour. She was in despair as to what to do to help her. 

“We spent every day of her life fighting and arguing. I’d be sitting at work waiting for a phone call, thinking ‘what is the school going to call me about today, what trouble is she going to bring to my door today.’” 

The school called Angela to recommend that Jo take part in SOHK’s programme to improve her interpersonal skills and relationships. Having already tried anything and everything to help Jo on a new path, Angela was doubtful that the course would help, but immediately noticed that Jo had stopped making excuses to miss school. Jo’s attendance skyrocketed from below 80% to approximately 95%. 

“From the word go, School of Hard Knocks helped Jo set goals and expectations and from that moment forward she spoke far more openly about her relationships and dealt with her anger better. She went from being a girl missing every PE class known to man to absolutely loving rugby and completely throwing herself into the game, especially the teamwork aspect of it” - Angela

“I loved the fact that we did something different every time and that every session had a focus. SOHK gives you aims and small goals - like one week my aim was to go until the next SOHK session without talking back. It really helped to take one day at a time and felt amazing when I achieved my weekly aim.” - Jo

Jo started to be able to speak more openly about her emotions, about her feelings, worries, anger and fears, and being able to speak about them meant that she was better able to deal with them. Jo found that her emotions were no longer controlling her and that she could take step back and view things from a different perspective when she found herself in situations that troubled or bothered her. All of Jo’s teachers said that it was much easier to communicate with her and that her attitude had changed drastically; Angela too had recognised this change at home.

Eleven months since embarking on her SOHK journey and Jo is still growing and learning from the sessions. Her attendance has improved dramatically from having almost five weeks off last year to having only 1 day of absence since she started on the course. Our facilitators have seen Jo go from strength to strength, independently working through difficult emotions and building a huge amount of resilience both on and off the pitch. Jo now feels much happier, more confident and secure in herself and so too does her mum. Angela says that she no longer dreads the phone ringing anymore in fear of it being Jo’s school calling to discuss her behaviour, and that she can now enjoy her daughter’s teenage years.

“A year ago when something bothered her Jo would have screamed and shouted, now she can sit down and have a conversation. The biggest thing for me, was also that I didn’t want to solve Jo’s problems, I didn’t want to school to solve her problems, I needed her to solve her problems. SOHK empowered Jo to make her own choices that are better choices. Now she takes a step back and thinks of the bigger picture. Now she does the right thing because she has chosen to, not because someone has told her to, and for that I rave from the rooftops about SOHK.”