James Tomkins helped West Ham United start the Kick It Out (Racism) week of action 2012 in great style when he visited a long-running community initiative.

Defender Tomkins - West Ham's KIO player ambassador for this 2012/13 season - went along to the Ford CEME centre in Rainham, Essex, where youngsters from local schools and colleges were taking part in a special KIO workshop entitled 'Turn a Negative into a Positive'.

Tomkins was part of a panel that answered questions on how to kick racism not only out of football and sport, but out of everyday society and communities.

The youngsters took part in a series of activities that looked at what racism and discrimination is all about and how it can be challenged or tackled by everyone where they live, go to school or work.

Also on the panel alongside Tomkins were England and GB women's footballer Rachel Yankey and former England cricket legend Graham Gooch plus representatives from Dagenham and Redbridge Football Club. Rodney Hinds, sports editor of The Voice newspaper, who is also a long-standing KIO ambassador, hosted the event, which was opened by Kick It Out trustee and former Chelsea captain Paul Elliott.

The youngsters then took part in workshops that looked at ways in which communities old and young can live and work together with different cultures and beliefs, before a Q+A session where they asked questions of their panel guests. Tomkins then wrapped up the event by helping to present awards for the achievements of the day.

Speaking after the event, Tomkins said: "We as a club have supported Kick It out for as long as I can remember and it is a really good campaign. The kids got to hear different experiences all the people on the panel have gone through in terms of positive and negative things that have happened to them in their lives and work and we all gave our thoughts on what Kick It Out means.

"We had people from all different clubs and sports. Football is one of the biggest sports and if we can help use that with getting a message across in the local communities then it can only be a positive and not a negative. Everyone here had a voice if they wanted to say something and be heard which is important.

"As a club we do a lot in the community and have a good reputation for doing so. We as players can help keep the messages going with what we do at events such as these. It was really good and everyone seemed to enjoy being here."

The event was just one of several activities being promoted in the Kick It Out weeks of action. The message of One Game, One Community also includes the words: 'Inspire, Achieve and Unite' and everything involved in KIO is geared towards these elements.

KIO trustee Paul Elliott said: "We are all leaders of people in our own ways and can all help to make a difference. The One Game, One community weeks of action are important for us to look at turning negatives into positives and football plays a big part."

Tomkins - who follows Carlton Cole, Kieron Dyer, Jack Collison and captain Kevin Nolan in recent seasons in being a KIO ambassador for West Ham - attended the community event and spoke to the national and local press about the KIO initiative, while West Ham manager Sam Allardyce and the rest of the team led the way this week ahead of training sessions wearing the special KIO T-shirts. These will also be worn by the matchday squad ahead of the home game with Southampton, the KIO match of action on Saturday at the Boleyn Ground.

For more details on the Kick It out, One Game, One Community, go to www.kickitout.org

Moore Than a Football Club