Rio Ferdinand Foundation: 5 in a Milllion Campaign
R io Ferdinand Foundation aims to create opportunities for young people in a number of ways; find out more about its aims and objectives as well as learning about how you might wish to get involved.

Most of you will know Rio Ferdinand as the former England and Manchester United, now QPR defender, however, Peckham-born Rio is more than just a footballer, he is the founder of the Rio Ferdinand Foundation which has a core focus on 14-19 year olds.

Rio has a keen interest for social issues involving young people and established the charity in early 2012 so he could take a more active role in determining and driving a charitable organisation that reflects issues and concerns close to his heart.

Rio launched the charity, which replaced his Rio Live The Dream Foundation; to create opportunities for young people and tackle important social issues and through the use of role models to them to and develop their skills and confidence through education, sports and the arts.

Rio was born in November 1978 in Peckham south east London in an area which suffered from urban decay in the 1960s and through his childhood it was dominated by vandalism, graffiti, arson attacks, robberies and muggings, becoming one of the most deprived residential areas in western Europe.

However the 35 year old put all his focus into his football career as he trained with a number of London clubs before joining West Ham United and rising through the youth system.

The 2002 World Cup was Rio's real coming out party as his performances with England ultimately convinced Sir Alex Ferguson to part ways with an estimated £30million in order to sign him.

Now, 13 years later, the 6'2' player is now playing for QPR, but as you may have noticed Rio's life is not 100% football. Via the Foundation, he works on a range of social and economic issues by rallying support from the sports, arts and entertainment industries.

Over the years these causes have covered a range of social and economic issues including tackling young people's involvement in crime and substance misuse, the lack of training and development opportunities available to residents in disadvantaged neighbourhoods and supporting young people into employment.

The Foundation delivers these through front-line community projects in London, Manchester and South Africa, as well as delivering a wide range of training programmes for young people across the UK and Ireland.

Programmes developed by the Foundation involve networks of strategic partners who support young people, act as mentors and enable them to access employment opportunities and pathways relevant to their skills and talents.

The Foundation works under the Sport for Development banner, which means charities which engage young people through sport, recreation and play as they are a fun way to learn values and lessons that will last a lifetime. Involvement in sport has been proven to boost people's health, improve academic performance and help reduce crime.

Furthermore sport can help prepare young people to meet the challenges they will face and to take leadership roles within their communities.In London, the Foundation delivers free OCN Skills for Employment and Enterprise Level 2 programmes for 16-24 year olds twice a month where young people gain employability skills to help them get and sustain a job, whilst teaching them how to set up their own business.

Nicholas Osi-Kumanig, who passed the OCN Level 2 course in February, has already used the course and their partnerships to gain valuable work experience.

The course was very useful

said the 22-year-old.

It helped me gain links to the Shard (the 87-storey skyscraper at London Bridge) and a recruitment agency called 'Good People' and from these links I was able to go on more training courses and get interviews.

In Southwark and Lambeth the Foundation delivers a variety of free, organised sport sessions for young people to join, as they firmly believe that sport can be used for personal and community development and that regular physical activity is essential for their physical, mental, psychological and social development.

Partners are a big part of the Foundation work and organisations like Big World Impact, Crystal Palace FC Foundation and Comic Relief all help to create job opportunities and enhance future prospects for young people from 10-25 years old.

Rio's charity believes that with the right support, role models and opportunities, young people can achieve great things and with confidence and skills they are able to use their talents towards a brighter future.

The sessions are run by experienced coaches, many who have come through the Foundation themselves and who took their coaching qualifications in their pathway to a better life.

Ibrahim Kanu grew up in the Aylesbury Estate in Southwark and met his first youth workers when he was 11 years old. He is now working as a coach for the Rio Ferdinand Foundation.

The things Rio Ferdinand Foundation have done for me have changed my life, I don't know where I would have been without their help and support – I would probably be on the streets. I have friends who didn't go this way because they thought there was no point of doing volunteering work and gaining certificates, but I thought it would only be good for myself and benefit me in the long run. Look what happened to me – I am now giving back to the communities. I love doing it and I will hopefully always give it back.'

The Foundation hosts major events throughout the year with the upcoming Gala Dinner in late March to raise money for the Rio Ferdinand Foundation, Operation Wallacea and Teenager Cancer Trust at Chelsea Harbour.

The mission is clear – the Rio Ferdinand Foundation wants to inspire and enable young people to reach their potential by providing education and employment pathways.

For more information on the Rio Ferdinand Foundation and how you can get involved, visit www.rioferdinandfoundation.com or follow them on Twitter using @riofoundation

I always said as a kid that I wanted to give something back to the community.

- Rio Ferdinand.

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