Transition Extreme (TX) uses a wide range of extreme sports experiences to enable people to make positive changes to their lives.
Housed in an imposing hangar on Aberdeen’s beach front, TX’s impressive facilities include one of the biggest skateparks in Scotland, several indoor climbing walls, an outdoor rope adventure course, as well as a café and function space.
Around core adventure activities such as rock climbing, skateboarding, BMXing and in-line skating, TX has developed a comprehensive portfolio of structured community and youth programmes, making it one of the most effective youth organisations in the area.
“We come across a lot of people who are struggling in terms of mainstream education. We also get quite a lot of people who are identified by partners in the community – police, social workers, youth workers – as being high risk and needing diversionary activities to keep them on the right track,” CEO Grahame Paterson explains.
TX offers a 12-week sports-based training programme, Alternative Academy, to engage with young adults between the age of 15 to 18 – particularly those who do not plan to follow a traditional education route through school, college and university.
The scheme builds on a participant’s employability by developing confidence, life skills and specialised professional qualifications in climbing, BMX and skateboarding.
A part time programme with a more light-touch approach, Extreme Academy, is also available for young adults who are keen to continue engaging with mainstream education.
The Extreme Summer programme is an outreach initiative which sees coaches and youth workers attend local skateparks throughout Aberdeen, to provide skateboard and BMX coaching to the local community. Outreach activities have so far engaged with over 70 young people and has saved an estimated £100,000 for local authorities due to reduced anti-social behaviour and nuisance calls.
TX develops a healthy portion of its income from its skatepark and climbing walls, as well as delivering hundreds of paid-for coaching sessions each year.
A range of events and birthday packages are offered for the skatepark, high rope assault course and climbing walls, while several units within the centre are leased out to other sports and retail brands to bring in a regular income.
The café is open to the public and can also be hired for events, while the large function room also brings in revenue from corporate sources.
TX also offers a range of school holiday camps, coming in at around £185 for a week’s worth of activities from 8.30am to 4pm.
In financial year to the end of March 2018, TX brought in £256k of donations and grants.
So far, around 300 young adults have graduated from the Alternative Academy training and employability programme, with 92% of them going on to a positive destination – representing a significant social return on investment.
TX also has a strong ethos of promoting from within: 25% of the current payroll are Academy graduates.
“For individuals who are disengaging with mainstream education, the excitement of learning or developing an extreme sport can bring out so many characteristics and create a context for learning, training and development. It’s the magic fairy dust, it’s fantastic.”
As a space and as an environment, we think that an extreme sports centre is pretty cool, it’s very open and welcoming, and actually that environment is very important to create an immediate opportunity to reduce barriers and resistance to connect.