I changed when I was 14, and my coach introduced me to Leap. I did Leap’s Leadership and Choice to Change courses in 2016 and 2018.
Over the past five years, I have been very active in the Leap community: hosting Youth Involvement Group (YIG) sessions for Leap graduates; representing Leap at external events; meeting with the trustees; planning Leap’s annual award ceremony and sitting on interview panels. Two years ago, I became a young ambassador. Through these experiences, I have grown so much as a person.
Leap’s training has made me more aware of my own actions. I am more considerate of others, and I am softer as a person.
Leap’s training has taught me that there are ways to avoid a conflict getting out of hand. It has equipped me with tools to deal with conflict situations, or to prevent conflict from happening when it doesn’t need to. Actually, I’ve learnt that lots of the time conflict can be avoided, and people don’t need to be hurt.
Leap’s training has taught me the difference between reacting and responding in a conflict situation. I am better now at taking a step back and putting more thought into how I respond, rather than reacting in the moment and doing something that I regret. I am more composed and more self-aware. Leap’s training has made me a better listener. I never used to listen; I thought that my way was the only way. Now, I ask more questions and I understand that people have different views than me. It isn’t always as simple as right and wrong.
As a team of young ambassadors, we have spent lots of time thinking about how the organisation needs to change to support young people. We are the spokespeople for young people at Leap, feeding into strategy, policy influencing and recruitment. I have also represented Leap at external events. I’m a veteran now. I even won Leap’s Young Leader award in 2019.
But it’s difficult being a young man in 2020. We are expected to look a certain way. Society expects us to have status and money. Otherwise, people will look down on us. Young men have to be strong, both emotionally and physically. This is damaging and it is difficult, because not everyone can be or wants to be that guy.
Social media has a big part to play in this. Young people are constantly looking at social media and developing ideas about relationships, how girls and boys are supposed to look and act. This can have a very harmful impact. But we can’t get rid of social media. We need organisations such as Leap to help us build resilience, and together we can become better educated about the risks. I want more young people to move away from a dependence on social media, and to start living in reality.