A Coventry man has written an interactive children’s book which he hopes can be used by children, parents and teachers as a preventative tool in tackling gang culture. Anton Noble has spent the past few years helping the city’s youth with his company Guiding Young Minds (GYM).
GYM works with schools and youth centers in Coventry, Warwickshire and Northamptonshire to tackle gang culture by getting to the root of the problems. Anton has now written The Playground, an educational and preventative book based in part on his own experiences.
The book discusses how things shaped and formed on school playgrounds – such as status, membership, popularity and “who is the toughest” – can be a precursor to gang membership more late in life. Anton, who attended Woodway Park (now Grace Academy) and Little Heath Primary School in the city, learned about gang culture through his own personal experience as a youngster, as well as his work in disadvantaged communities that tackle it.
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Anton hopes his book will add to his repertoire to help young people make the right decisions earlier in life. Such decisions are often based on a child’s home life and subsequent playground relationships. Anton’s book will help with both of these, he recently told CoventryLive.
He told CoventryLive: “Gangs start forming early in young people – kids find their identity and status on the playground, so I wanted to write a book about it, make it interactive, which means “Ideal for workshops in schools and for parents. If children feel rejected or out of place, if a child feels like they have to act a certain way to fit in, it all helps leads to making bad decisions.
“The book helps kids know what’s wrong and what’s right, it looks at how gang and gang member symptoms, division, status and everything else starts to happen in the playground before to go to the street. This goes from the house, from the playground to the street.
“So the book also allows parents to interact with their children, to make them aware of what can happen if things are not challenged at an early age. I wanted to do this because a lot of parents call me asking how to spot if their children are getting involved.
“It’s not just the kids I have to work with, it’s the parents too. So the book helps both of them, gets them thinking about challenging questions, something they might never have. posed before, so that the parents also learn more about their child. .
“This book is important to me because it can teach children about what is not normal behavior, that it can be controlled, and shows that early intervention can prevent them from getting involved in situations when ‘they’re older. The book is interactive, educational and a pre-gang prevention tool that teachers and parents can use to show young people the feelings of others. Encourage children to stop comparing themselves to each other and to believe that they are unique masterpieces in their own right.
“The popularity of playgrounds has always been based on status; who’s the man, who’s the toughest, it all starts in the playground. In the classroom it’s the teacher, but they don’t control the playground, it’s the kids who have status, so that’s where we learn how to socialize with our peers and how to treat people.
“So the book is based on my personal experiences, things I’ve seen, but also things I’ve heard, and things in general, but I’ve also used my first-hand experience of the work that I’m currently doing.”
Anton has already sold 100 of the books, with the money coming from GYM funding and Anton’s work in the community. Part of that involves a hugely popular youth club based at St Chad’s Church in Wood End which Anton has run since last year but is currently under threat.
Funding is running out and Anton is trying to get more. “We welcome up to 51 children,” Anton revealed, “but we need more funding because it runs out when the children go their separate ways for the summer. If it stops completely, it could be very damaging .”
Learn more about GYM on their website. You can order the book by emailing [email protected]