In little over a year 16-year-old Jade Whale has gone from not knowing what her next step would be after not getting the exam results she wanted, to emerging as an inspirational leader with a choice of job offers in front of her.

And from those job offers Jade decided to accept a role as an apprentice with Bath Rugby Foundation, starting in October 2018.

Previously a student at John of Gaunt School for her GCSEs, Jade didn’t get the results in English that she wanted after finding it difficult throughout the year and at times avoiding attending some lessons.

Jade met Bath Rugby Foundation coaches on exam results day and enrolled at the Foundation’s HITZ Learning Academy. HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme which works with over 2,000 14-18 year-olds across England every year.

HITZ uses rugby to engage young people who are NEET (not in education, employment or training) to provide them with the skills and qualifications they need to get back on their feet.

A year after first coming along to Bath Rugby Foundation, Jade was named the winner of the national HITZ Rugby Ambassador Award.

"Coming to HITZ and Bath Rugby Foundation definitely changed my life," said Jade. 

Jade didn’t enjoy school. She had very low confidence and a bad attitude towards learning, during her time at school. She would often walk out of classes and in some cases wasn’t allowed in them.

Over the year Jade spent on the HITZ programme the entire team at Bath Rugby Foundation saw a huge change. Initially she was shy, lacked confidence and did not put herself forward. Through her time volunteering and playing rugby with Walcott Warriors her whole attitude and mindset, in her approach to different (sometimes difficult) scenarios completely changed.

She became a clear, positive leader in her peer group, often inspiring her classmates and friends.

"The HITZ programme has helped develop my confidence," she said. "I used to be shy when I walked into a room full of people. Now I feel much more confident in my own abilities and open to new things."

In April 2018, Jade was selected to be part of the Bath Rugby Foundation XV, who appeared on Bath Rugby’s special edition shirt when the team ran out at Twickenham for The Clash against age-old rivals, Leicester Tigers.

On completing the HITZ programme, Jade had a choice between more than one job offer and now works for Bath Rugby within the Operations team, assisting with the matchday set up at The Rec.

Having previously considered a career in either the armed forces or the police, Jade says the HITZ programme has helped her form plans for her future.

"It has given me hope for the future and helped me realise I want to be a coach myself," she said. 

Jade had always been a keen football player and has had trials for Swindon. However, this season Jade will be trying out a new sport, having signed up to play for Bath Rugby Ladies (and scoring two on her debut!).



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