When the COVID-19 lockdown was announced, it came as a shock to Omari (15) who lives in Streatham Hill, southwest London. Having been so focused on studying for his GCSEs, he suddenly found himself with no exams, confined to home for the foreseeable future. For Omari who had just recovered from injury and was ready to get back into playing sport, the confinement came as a double blow.
Omari’s passion is American Football. It was this that first brought him to BIGKID Foundation, a south London youth and community charity that runs community engagement programmes for young people in Lambeth and Lewisham. Since autumn 2018, thanks to a partnership with NFL UK and Nike, they have been running American Flag Football sessions for young people aged 11 – 18, at Larkhall Park in Stockwell. Since starting with BIGKID, Omari has been selected to play for the South London Renegades, who, in their very first season, reached the national finals in Sheffield.
Having a heart-to-heart with his mum, Omari realised the restrictions don’t have to mean doom and gloom, there’s opportunity. Opportunity to give back and do something positive. Inspired by the challenge of keeping active with limited time outdoors, Omari decided to start leading daily community workouts – not only a way to keep himself active, but helping get others moving, instead of sitting down, doing nothing. Astounded by the response, Omari now leads a workout for his block everyday at 11am.Omari said: “I thoroughly enjoy the workouts, not because I like being active but…because of the many lives I’m impacting, not just physically but mentally. It’s…nice to see everyone of all abilities, any ages joining in with a smile.
“Since I have started the weekday workouts I have had amazing, encouraging, uplifting feedback and support from those who are joining in on their balconies. I get many thank yous, applause and people eager to know when the next session is.”
Recognising his drive and commitment to being a positive influence in his community, BIGKID are helping Omari widen his reach by promoting his story and posting his sessions live on Instagram each morning at 11am.
“I’m using this invaluable time productively; learning new things and making some of my dreams come true” says Omari.
He continues: “In the future I see myself impacting many lives across the globe through my love for sport. I want to achieve many great things and hopefully create a company which offers many opportunities and pathways for young people across the world.”
BIGKID strongly believes that behind every KID is something BIG. Targeting hard to reach young people, engaging those who many have given up on, BIGKID exists to create opportunities; to play sport, make friends, improve leadership skills and make positive life changes in a safe, family environment that is easily accessible.
Omari explains the importance of BIGKID: “From the second I stepped foot in the Stockwell cage, it felt like a family. I was able to better my skills at their sessions and even meet NFL players. I was also lucky enough to be MVP [Most Valuable Player] for not just one but two NFL players at the Flag Session where I won their NFL shirts. To anyone who is stuck at home with a talent, BIGKID is the place to go.”
In a society where young people are often surrounded by negative perceptions, Omari has shown exceptional strength, leadership and commitment to supporting his community in this difficult time.
Join the workouts here.
BIGKID Foundation is a multi-award-winning youth and community charity for young people at risk of social exclusion and youth violence. They are experts in youth engagement and strongly believe that behind every kid is something BIG. BIGKID equip young people to take control of their lives, find, develop and act on their own potential, through community engagement, leadership and mentoring programmes across the London Borough of Lambeth and neighbouring areas.