Empowering young people to achieve better lives
My passion lies in youth empowerment. This drive comes from personal circumstance, growing up in an area which at the time was high in criminality and gang activity, I saw the perils of this life at first-hand. I had friends involved in crime, so I saw how easy It was to get involved in that lifestyle.
"My Churchill Fellowship project is around reducing the ‘school to prison pipeline’ which involves a young person being excluded from school and how that increases the likelihood of them entering the criminal justice system."
I also saw how many barriers there were to a legit job and the lack of role models present to take young people and show them there was another way. I had countless times in my life where I had to make critical decisions and fortunately, I made the right ones. This was largely due to having a supportive family and the intervention of boxing and martial arts that taught me a lot about life and myself.
When I came out of University, I wanted to be that difference and give back to my community (and many more now) and not just tell young people how great they can be, but also show them.
My Churchill Fellowship project is around reducing the ‘school to prison pipeline’ which involves a young person being excluded from school and how that increases the likelihood of them entering the criminal justice system. More can be done to help support these youth and that is my mission and the reason I applied for a Fellowship.
I have been in this field for 11 years now and saw a chance to learn from some real pioneers who champion youth voice and social action in a way to make sure young people have the best outcomes in alternative education. I want to learn from these people and organisations and bring an actionable framework back to the UK.
The places I am visiting all have a differing look at education and empowerment. My hope is to bring strategies and frameworks back to our alternative provision and provide the best experience for the young people we work with. I will also be taking the learning I acquire into organisations such as schools and local authorities nationwide to initiate action and change.
The places I am visiting include schools in New York run by an educator called Dr Steve Perry who is an activist for equal opportunity and champions education especially for black and ethnic minorities. The other places will include Detroit which has a martial arts focused provision run by Jason Wilson who has recently been the subject of an ESPN documentary. His focus is on holistic change through martial arts teaching.
I am also visiting places in Europe which are different in culture, but their focus is on different ways of teaching and methods, such as an outdoor based learning school in Germany. There are many ways to teach for best outcomes and I want to explore a diverse range of ways so we can adapt and engage young people so they can have the best chance at a prosperous life.
When I received the news that I had been awarded a Fellowship, it was a feeling like no other. I knew my cause was just, but I know how competitive it is to receive a Fellowship. I also didn't have a research background I had more of a lived experience background so I was apprehensive if I would receive it but when I did, I was ecstatic and vow to make a change with my learning.
The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.