Meet Connor

Connor, recipient of one of the inaugural Participant of The Year Awards, did not have an easy time at school. Diagnosed with both Dyslexia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) at a young age, he struggled to find his rhythm and place in the system. Often in trouble for various infractions, school was a difficult place and not somewhere he enjoyed.

“I would get into trouble for talking, back chat, fighting and other things too. As a result, I had a pretty low opinion of myself”.

Connor’s parents tried to help their son, enrolling him in numerous clubs and activities, but none of them caught Connor’s imagination.

“I tried boxing, football, swimming, but nothing helped, so I stopped them as soon as I could”

At the beginning of year nine, Connor’s dad came to him with a new idea. He wanted to enrol him in a new programme called School of Hard Knocks (SOHK). Connor was not keen but agreed. Things did not go well at first.

“I really hated it in the beginning. I was so far out of my comfort zone and I didn’t speak to anyone. I wanted to stop”

But something in Connor kept him returning. Despite a less than auspicious start, it quickly became apparent that SOHK was where Connor would find what had been previously been missing. Through dedication, perseverance and courage, along with the help and guidance of the coaches, Connor saw huge changes in himself.

 “I now LOVE it and come every week without fail. I had an amazing end to year nine and year ten carried on the same way. I didn’t receive a single negative behaviour point where previously I had received more than fifty”.

Asked what he thought had made the difference Connor said

“The staff. I can have a laugh with them, and they are really relaxed. They encouraged me every step of the way”.

The changes in Connor have been astounding and show the very best that SOHK can do. Connor himself has seen how he has grown and changed.

“I feel much better about myself, more confident. On the pitch I have been called ‘the back bone of the team’. I am more focused and feel I have something very positive in my life”.

When Connor heard that he was to receive an award for his exceptional efforts and progress, he was surprised to say the least.

“I was so shocked to receive the award, I didn’t feel I deserved it and still struggle to understand why I was chosen. I can see that I have shown dedication and commitment to the programme and will take everything that I have learned forward to college. It will help me to achieve my goal of working with animals”.

 Kids playing rugby at Principality stadium

Written by Malcolm Johnson, SOHK Course Volunteer