A Morecambe man who stunt doubled for Sylvester Stallone believes teenage vandals can ‘bounce back’ with the right mixture of exercise, fun and discipline.
TV and film stuntman Martin Shenton has set up a programme called ‘Bouncing Back’ at his Regent Park Studios activity centre in the West End.
By getting to the root causes of why teens misbehave, ‘Bouncing Back’ has helped dozens of youngsters turn their lives around.
And after the recent spate of youth vandalism, arson and anti-social behaviour in Morecambe, Martin believes his scheme is more relevant than ever.
“We take that small section of kids who have gone off the rails and try to get them back on the rails,” said Martin, who doubled for Stallone in last year’s popular Warburton’s bread TV advert.
“Nobody is saying to these kids ‘What’s wrong?’ We sit them down and we get to the real reasons why these things happen.”
At Regent Park Studios, Martin and his team involve children who are either excluded from school, or on the verge of exclusion, in a range of fun physical activities.
Martin, a martial arts expert and former army bodyguard, points out that if children exercise, it releases endorphin hormones in the brain and improves their mood.
“If kids are active they get an endorphin lift.
“Some kids come here, they say they’re tired, they lie around. So we get on the trampolines, start bouncing, and they want to join in. And it works. It makes them feel good about themselves.
“We had one kid who had real problems. He came here and he was throwing fire extinguishers, threatening us with violence. But he eventually became a nicer person. Now he’s left school, he’s at college, doing something with his life. He’s been back here and said what we did was helpful. It got him thinking.
“People say there’s nothing for kids to do in Morecambe but there’s plenty.
“Here we do trampolining, climbing, archery, fencing, free running, trapeze and all aspects of stunt work.”
Martin also has strong views on why teens get into gangs and behave anti-socially on the streets.
“There’s no punishment,” he said.
“The youth of today have no imagination because everything is too real. With the internet and the ever revolving Facebook, it’s all right in their face.
“There are no consequences for their actions. No discipline. The police are trying their best but their hands are tied. They get them to court then they’re let off with a slap on the wrist.
“A lot of kids we get in here, who are either excluded from school or on the verge of it, are really good kids deep down. I used to think that 90 per cent of children with problems, it was due to the parents. But I’ve come across lots of parents who are really good and the problems are out of their hands.
“By the time kids get to 13-14, peer pressure changes. They have to show off a bit more and they have to feel like they fit into a category, which is when you get gangs.
“Smashing windows, graffiti, it’s an outlet for them.
“The problem is that schools haven’t got the time to assess these cases. They try their best. The school system works for about 60 per cent of kids.
“But the education system is medieval.”