'Spy for a day'
During February half term a group of 30 of our young people met bright and early for what they had been told was a ‘James Bond Experience’. Would it be a theme park or escape rooms? No one was quite sure. On arrival at the meeting point, everyone had to hand in any phones or other Bluetooth equipment. Then the minibuses arrived – blacked out windows and a strict register to check everyone in. This wasn’t going to be an ordinary BIGKID trip!
For many, it wasn’t until we turned in to the fortified gates along the river in Vauxhall, that we realised we were going to MI6! For the first time, they were opening their doors to our young people. What followed was a day packed with spy missions and info on how to get recruited. MI6 have just dropped their entry age to 18 – it's much more accessible than you may think! The highlight by far was a Q & A with ‘C’ the Chief Spy himself. Free to ask anything, we found out about what being an actual spy is all about.
Have a look at this coverage in the Evening Standard:
MAYOR OF LONDON FUNDING
We are excited to announce that we have secured a 2 year grant through the Mayor of London’s Impact Partnerships fund that is taking us pan London! Using a model of delivering our Breaking Barriers Leadership Programme, in combination with peer mentoring and 6 weeks of American Flag Football (piloted with great success at Sedgehill School in Lewisham), we are going North, East and West! Looking forward to bringing what we do to young people across London. If you would like us to come to your school, please get in touch!
#BehindeveryKID #MayorofLondon #sportunites #younglondonersfund.
It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to attend a Grammy-nominated producer’s listening party. Guilty Beatz is a world renowned producer who has produced on amazing projects including Beyoncé’s Lion King album. The accolades are many, so it was exciting to bring our young artist/beneficiaries to attend his listening party to promote and celebrate the upcoming release of his album. The night took place at the Red Bull center in Piccadilly Circus. It was an electrifying evening with live DJ performancesand a room of well-known personalities such as comedian Eddie Kadi, BBC radio DJ Limelight and Love Island runner ups Priscilla and Michael. For our young beneficiaries who are aspiring artists it was an awesome opportunity to be a part of a such a movement and they didn’t miss the opportunity to network and talk to different people in the room.
THEATER SURPRISE FROM
For many years we have used sports as a means to engage young people in the community, to unite and impart in them necessary life skills through our coaching sessions. On top of that we have recently grown our creative arts programme through our filming workshops. So when one of our supporters,Sarah Bohner donated 10 tickets to take our young people to a theatre which was themed around a group of young friends trying to make it pro in football it seemed like a match made in heaven. The play, called ‘The Spine’ follows 3 friends and their journey into acquiring a contract in the premier league, but how institutional racism and toxic masculinity act as walls to their progress. One of our Beneficiaries turned coach had this to say about the play.
“The play was very realistic in terms that it actually gave an insight to an academy player’s mind and what they go through in life such as racism jealousy and family problems.”
Considering none of them had been to a theatre before the level of engagement and insight was amazing. Thank you Sarah!
LONDON MENS FASHION WEEK
To kick off 2020 with a bang we were invited by GQ Editor Dylan Jones to attend London Men’s Fashion week. It was a time that allowed us to appreciate the various fashion cultures in and around London. One of our volunteer beneficiaries Nicole, came with us and said,
“Being invited to this event was a great opportunity to see the different styles of clothing. As someone who does photography, I need to keep an open mind about outfits when doing my shoots. This was a good time to get inspiration. I was amazed to see so many people come to the show, considering it was only about half an hour long. It made me realise that fashion is a big thing in our community today and is a very influential thing. Even though I have little interest in fashion, it was a very useful experience.”
It is always encouraging to inspire young people when it comes to purpose and potential. So a big thanks to GQ and Dylan for helping us do so.
Woodrow Girls Tournament
During the weekend of the 22nd November two of our brilliant coaches, Jessie and Marina, took a group of 11 girls on a residential to Woodrow High House in Buckinghamshire for the first ever London Youth Girls football tournament. The girls were split into two teams, managed by each of the coaches. Both teams did an incredible job, which led them to the finals....against one another!
Not only did we win the tournament, but the girls also participated in team building activities which encouraged them to work together, with each other and the other teams there too. The activities ranged from Jacob’s Ladder to a challenge obstacle course which even involved being blindfolded - really showed the importance of good communication! Without teamwork, none of the challenges would have been completed.
Our huge thanks to London Youth for inviting us! All the girls had an incredible time and made lasting memories, especially for young Paris, who spent her 16th birthday surrounded by friends. Bonds were built and friendships were made, that is what fun is all about.
November 2019 saw the return of the infamous BIGKID quiz night! Al Scott from Sounds Familiar led the charge with a fabulous music quiz that saw us pelting out power ballads, dancing synchronised steps to Candy finishing up with the obligatory conga line! The party didn’t stop there. Undercover auctioneer and BIGKID trustee Meesh Tuft auctioned a host of fabulous prizes including three bottles of House of Commons wine signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Chancellor Sajid Javid and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, and a luxury holiday cottage In Tuscany. Throughout the evening a tombola style raffle took place with prizes donated by Charbonnel et Walker, the NFL, Nike, Michel Roux Jr, Jerusalem Bar, Livelyhood, Morellis and Finos. 10 teams competed for the coveted title of BIGKID Quiz Victors but it was defending champions Murphy’s Law who stole the crown once again.
Our First Visual Arts Exhibition!
As part of our social action project with our boys football programme, funded by comic relief and the #iwill campaign we put together an art exhibition in the month of October. With the aim of addressing issue affecting young people, our young leaders put together several creative displays helping them show their perspective of South London which led us to name the exhibition ‘Through my eyes’. The night consisted of various forms of art, one being our very first BIGKID movie titled “Through my eyes” which was written and created by some of our boys from our boys football programme. The short film aimed to show the internal struggle young people must go through in the attempt to be who they want to be rather than who others want them to be. Other forms of art included photography and painted pieces which powerfully demonstrated how our young view growing up in South London.
The night allowed us to create another platform for our young people to express themselves and share their story through their gifts and talents. It served as a time of reflection and community with guests gaining a better understanding of how our young people are perceiving and experiencing their community and what we can do to help them.
We are encouraged by the feedback of the community but also by the enthusiasm of the young people involved in being able to be a part of the night. We aim to continue to create such platforms that allow our young people to take control of their community and be engaged in social action.
The exhibition has now been installed at the Comic Relief offices and will be going on tour in 2020! If you would like the exhibition to come to you, please get in touch.
NFL AT TOTTENHAM STADIUM
In the month of October our partners, NFL UK and Nike as well as our Ambassador, Efe Obada generously donated 40 tickets between themselves for us to take our young people to attend the Panthers vs Buccaneers at the newly built Tottenham stadium. The day saw our young people serve as flag bearers to introduce the two NFL teams unto the pitch, it was a surreal experience which did not end there. Our kids were given the opportunity to play an exhibition flag football match as part of the half time show. The exhibition game saw our young people split into two teams representing both the buccaneers and the panthers. It was an exhilarating time which was full of amazing running plays, phenomenal catches and awesome touchdowns. To top of the day two of our kids were picked as MVPs and got the opportunity to meet Christian Mccaffrey at the end of the game and each received a signed game ball by the Panthers Running back.
It was an overwhelming day which the kids loved and we are more than grateful to NFL, Nike and Efe Obada for making this day happen for our young people.
PANTHERS CHARITY DAY AT HARROW SCHOOL
As part of the Panthers Charity day, the Carolina Panthers came down to Harrow school to engage with young people living in London. It being the first time the whole team was able to attend such an event, it promised to be a lively and fun day, and it did not disappoint. The day consisted of NFL like drills, constructed and adapted to engage young people, making it fun and easy to take part. From quarterback strategies to line back drills, the young people were able to try them all. Our coaches and volunteers had the privilege of being invited by NFL UK to help coach and facilitate the event, allowing us to bring our energy and enthusiasm to the day.
The day allowed the kids to meet members of the Carolina Panthers, the likes of; Efe Obada, Mario Addison and Greg Olson who all got involved in leading some NFL drills and engaging with the young people from Harrow. It was a firm reminder of the power of community and the change we can make when we gather.
To cap it all off, BIGKID Ambassador and Panthers superstar Efe Obada had a surprise in store for our Founder and CEO at the end of the day presenting him with an NFL Golden Game Ball and tickets to the Superbowl in Miami next year before naming him a NFL Local Hero!
FLAG FOOTBALL FINALS
07/09/19 marked the day of the national flag football finals. Although BIGKID has only been delivering the sport for a few months, its popularity and level of engagement have been unquestionable. This saw us partner up with contact team “South London Renegades” to create a flag football team to compete in the regional flag football league. Game after game the newly founded Renegades x BIGKID flag team continued to exceed expectations with minimal losses prior to making the regional finals. The regional finals, held in Sheffield saw 8 teams compete to be champions. And whilst our BIGKID x Renegades team did not return with a trophy, they performed valiantly amongst teams that have been playing for years. We are proud of our young people for doing so well and wait to see what the future holds for them in this sport.
MALACHI'S SONG ON CAPITAL XTRA!
Its not often you get your song played on the radio. But our very own BIGKID, Malachi Virgo was stunned when DJ Semtex chose to play his song on his Capital Xtra radio show. Malachi the Stockwell born 19 year old has always identified himself as an artist and has committed himself to his goal in making it as a global artist. Malachi was shocked to hear that Celebrity DJ has been playing his song as part of his evening radio show. Semtex an avid supporter for our vision to engage and raise new leaders always aims to elevate people when he can and he proved that here.
This is a message to those working hard in pursuit of their dreams and goals, that you never know who is watching you. So always work hard and carry yourself with excellence and you will arrive at your destination in due time!
WE ARE REMEMBERING PETER SMYTH
Peter Smyth was one of BIGKID’s inaugural Ride London to Surrey 100 cyclists along with his wife Caroline. He tragically died in a car accident in February this year and leaves behind his wife and three young children. He was brother in law to our chairman of trustees and brother to one of BIGKID’s keenest supporters. We remember his love for a cycle challenge and the impactful legacy that his fundraising has left on our young people.
On a very hot day in September, 24 runners ranging from the age of 17 to 56 set off around Richmond on a half marathon. Many of us were not natural runners and had been training for months to lead up to this moment. The training had gone global, with some training runs taking place in Columbia, Abu Dhabi, Fiji, Australia, Italy and the slightly less glamourous Suffolk. For those of us less athletically inclined, it was an uphill struggle. However, I am pleased that on the day we all finished in under 3 hours. The field was wide with Arthur, 23, coming in the top 5% of runners and Amir, slightly older, coming in the bottom 5%!
Afterwards, there was a picnic to reflect on why we had all put ourselves through the months of training and the heat stroke we now inevitably had. Sam, my brother, and others son, cousin, nephew or friend was not there to join in the celebration. We were running in his memory after he died at the age of 22 earlier this year. Sam would have been racing Arthur to the finish line. He was the kind of person who would run a marathon in Dulwich park on a random Saturday morning by himself ‘just for fun’. It is a testament to Sam’s character that he was able to get so many of us off the sofa and onto the running track. He was never afraid of a challenge or an adventure. We all know that we must continue this in his name.
Running in aid of BIGKID was the obvious choice. The charity has links to South London, where Sam grew up, but also Aldeburgh, where Sam has been on many an adventure. Sam got to do so many amazing things in his 22 years, from travelling the world, to being a keen sportsman, to joining the army. He would’ve wanted as many others as possible to do the same. That is why I am so pleased that we have managed to raise over £42,000 for Big Kids. Meeting members of the BIGKID team at the picnic cemented why we had run all the way and it was great to hear how much of a difference the money will make.
It is time to think about the next challenge for Sam’s team. Watch this space!