YOUNGSTERS are taking part in mixed martial arts rather than mixing with the wrong crowd thanks to a new summer holiday initiative.

East Lancs Predators Mixed Martial Arts have teamed up with STREETS UK to offer free MMA training sessions throughout the six week school break.

The aim of the sessions are to keep youngsters off street corners and out of trouble and at the same time help them improve fitness, self esteem, discipline and make new friends.

John Magee, who runs STREETS UK – an inclusive multi-sports mentoring programme specifically designed for young people – and Rob Freedman of Predators joined forces to run sessions which are held at Chadwick Street Mill off Bolton Road, Blackburn.

Magee knows all about the benefits martial arts can have on improving discipline as he is a black belt second dan in the martial art Kempo.

“I first met Rob when he came to Blackburn Martial Arts and Kick Boxing Club to talk to Sensie Ray Parker and Sensie Simon Jones back in 2005 to discuss bringing MMA to Blackburn.

“Since then I have been overwhelmed with Rob’s passion to keep kids safe and off the streets at night.

“This also gives them an opportunity to do something positive with their lives and use MMA as a pathway to tap into their full potential.” Freedman, who is a professional MMA fighter and a qualified coach, approached Magee in June to discuss putting together something called STREETWISE.

As well as offering MMA training there is the opportunity for youngsters to talke about staying safe in the community and understanding the consequences of risk taking behaviour and making positive life choices “I am really grateful to John and STREETS for investing their time to help young people get involved in MMA, throughout the holidays and hopeful going forward,” added Freedman.

The classes are every Tuesday and Thursday (11am to 1pm) for youngsters aged between 13-17-years-old at the Chadwick Street Mill, Blackburn.