A BALLET dancer and boxer is beating the stigma around mental health and behavioural disorders.
Marcellus Hill has been diagnosed with ADHD, autism and bipolar disorder but has overcome the challenges that he has had to face with the support of his family and members of Scrappers Gym.
“I was only four years old when I was diagnosed with ADHD, my mum noticed that I was quite excitable when I was younger and I think that’s what gave it away. “My brother Vincent also has ADHD and us two together was just very hard to deal with because we would just be bouncing around everywhere all the time.” The 16-year-old of Cloche Way in Upper Stratton joined Scrappers – a community-run boxing gym managed by the Children's Scrapstore – last November. He said: “Boxing was completely new to me. I didn’t even think about doing it before, not until my mum mentioned it. Then I started having an interest. “My mum Cathy is a social worker and she has taken kids down there because she works with the youth offending team. I was just interested in going for the summer last year and getting involved with the gym and she took me down one time. After that I just kept going and got really into it.” But boxing wasn’t always a passion for Marcellus. He has been dancing since he was eight years old. He took on ballet and tap at Swindon Dance at Regent Circus after he made a bet with his mum and sister Imani, who is two years younger. Marcellus said “When I was younger it was kind of a dare between me and my mum because she didn’t think that I could stick with it. I was very interested in football at the time, so I’ve proven her wrong, really. “I don’t just like the fitness but the mental side of it all, just being able to go somewhere where no one is going to judge me or say anything. I can just get on with what I want to do and I think that is really important.” Swindon Dance has helped Marcellus prepare to audition to go to a dance school. He has already set his mind to audition for the London Dance Academy once he has completed his dance course at New College. But living with a mental health condition and behavioural disorders hasn’t always been easy for him. He said: “I think other people just see a disability but I think there’s a lot more to it. There’s a lot of struggle that goes along with it all, but I think some people try to go against it and deny that it’s happening and that’s what causes more of a struggle. I think when people try to fight with themselves and try to act what is considered normal I think that’s what makes it more challenging. “I think it can be the mindset that people have about these conditions that doesn’t help.” While the attitudes of others can make life challenging for Marcellus, his own mind can cause confusion. He said: “It all makes me very hyperactive sometimes and it can make me feel very out of place in the world. There’s a lot that comes with it and it’s all very hard to explain.” His bipolar disorder can add to the chaos as his moods change from one to another very quickly and without warning. In the summer he gets very low but in the winter he feels happier. But there’s one person in particular who has helped him along the way since joining Scrappers Gym. Marcellus said: “The disability coach at the gym, Dean Howells, does a lot for the disabled community. When I first started there he was the first person there for me both as a coach and as a person to speak to. I think having him support me was a big help and he’s helped me along the way with my boxing journey.”
Despite the challenges that come with Marcellus’ conditions he is proud to be who he is.
He said: “The best part about it all is that it has made me a very open-minded person because I know what it’s like to be someone that’s not like everyone else.
“It’s all made me a very creative person and I show that with my dancing, boxing and in most things in my life.”
'Scrappers turned my life around'
SCRAPPERS Gym helped turn a man’s life around after he lost his business.
Darren Smith, 44, felt helpless after his sandwich and catering firm closed two years ago.
He felt depressed and hopeless before he saw a Facebook post about Scrappers’ new mental health classes.
Darren, of Haydon Wick, said: “After I lost my business I went into a depressed state and I thought ‘why not?’ I couldn’t even go into a shop without having an anxiety attack and now I’ve overcome that.”
After he joined Scrappers his life changed and he started to see a difference in himself and others.
Darren said: “I think it has given me focus, it builds your confidence up and they make you feel a part of something good and as part of the family.
“Since being here more friends are being formed and I’ve seen people who are shy and not very comfortable in large groups gain more confidence in themselves.”
He has even seen the difference it has made for Marcellus Hill who he occasionally coaches.
Darren said: “It’s just nice to see a young person who suffers with mental health to have his mindset altered and it has encouraged him to focus more and grow as a person.”
The coach wants to help more people to take their first step towards changing their lives for the better.
He said: “It’s the hardest thing walking through that door but if anyone wants to join they just have to call and I will meet you and help you to take that first step.”
Scrapstore plays vital role
THE Scrapstore has offered vital support to people of Swindon through its many projects.
CEO Olivia McCann has been with community resource centre since 2001, but it all started back in 1985.
One of its most popular projects is Scrappers Gym at Langley Road – run by volunteers and funded by donations.
The gym's disability and mental health classes have only been running for a year.
Olivia said: “There’s nothing for young people to do anymore so it’s really important to get them involved.
“It’s not just about boxing, it’s about self respect and helping them grow.”
The Scrapstore only had three projects when it first started but now it has six. The number of people they have helped is growing all the time.
Olivia said: “We’re purely run by volunteers and our coaches and they’ve helped us to get to where we are today. Over the years we have been able to help over 40,000 people.
“We work with a lot of schools, we help children involved with social services and people who might be at risk of trouble.
“We have so many different classes for everyone, so anyone can join.”
Currently we are running live sessions via Facebook daily to help those in lockdown focus and stay fit.