Black excellence at it's finest

Black excellence at it’s finest

FUTURE: Dionne Emmerson and Sherif Olatunji

LAST NIGHT celebrated black talent and excellence at the Black Magic Awards held in London Piccadilly’s Criterion Theatre.

The evening celebrated the brilliant accomplishments of inspirational black men from across TV, film, music, comedy, fashion and the community. Noel Clarke, Amal Ameen, Stormzy, Trevor Nelson plus more lead the honouree line up.

It was a great night overall celebrating black excellence and the continued talents that our community has to offer – can’t wait for next year!

TAKE A LEAP

No matter what your age is, it’s never too late to step outside of your comfort zone. Of course it’s easier said than done, but the proof is in the pudding! This week, I’d like to share the journey of two remarkable young people that have bravely taken a step to influence positive change when confronting conflict with themselves and within the community.

LEAP is an award-winning national youth charity that provides inspirational conflict management programmes and support to young people and the professionals working with them.

LEAP held their seventh annual ‘Lighting the Fire’ award ceremony a few weeks back. It was a brilliant evening which serves to celebrate and raise awareness of the incredible work being done, and bringing everyone together.

The awards ceremony also included some fantastic performances and even one of the winners of the ‘Young Leaders Award’ Dionne Emmerson sung a meaningful song about mental health; it moved the auditorium!

I’d also like to say congratulations to Dionne Emmerson and Sherif Olatunji – the joint winners of the Young Leaders Award! We caught up with them to learn more about their journey, progress and positive impact through LEAP.

Speaking on how she began working with LEAP, Emmerson said “I started working for the YIAG, which is a youth board for Waltham Forest Council. We work with young people, police and safety alongside organisations and services on how to engage young people.

“Through the YIAG I was referred to LEAP to do the conflict management training in the leadership course and choice to change. From the moment I started I knew I was going to really enjoy it at LEAP and that I would be involved for a while.’

After winning the award, the inspiring youngster said she hopes to begin more conversations surrounding young people and mental health. “I’ve learnt that it’s important to talk about the struggles you’ve been through and how they made you feel,” said Emmerson.

“I want to give other young people that opportunity. In addition, I’ve just graduated from the training young trainers (TYT) course with LEAP so I get the chance to share the things I’ve learnt about conflict with others.“

We had to ask Emmerson about her inspiration to sing and what her future plans are. She shared: “I’m inspired by so many genres, styles and people, but if I had to choose it would be my faith. I believe in truth and being raw is the way to impact people.

“My aim is to do this by helping people to feel the emotion in a song, but there’s still a level of positivity or impact. My inspiration in human form would be Lauryn Hill as she’s so authentic in her music. I have started writing and I plan to continue. I don’t have any songs recorded yet. I hope to start in the near future.”

Olatunji the joint winner, also shared with us how he got involved with LEAP: “I was 14 years old and I was a troublemaker at school. One of my mentors at school told me about a charity that helps young people, Leap Confronting Conflict.

“Because I am a very open person, I decided why not, let’s give this a try. So I went with my mentor and met with a staff member where she told me about Leap Confronting Conflict what type of things they do and so I started to get stuck in.

“I did the Choice to Change course, which took a lot of time to complete because I had a lot going on personally. Last year I finally completed the Choice to Change and the Leadership course.

Olatunji added: “The impact Leap has on my life, is that I like to question things. Before I was very close minded, I never used to listen to other people’s ideas.

“I believed my beliefs were better than everyone else’s. Now I have met different
people. Through the course has shown me more diversity. I have heard more of my peers’ opinions and continue to question a lot, that’s a skill Leap’s training has given me.

“Leap has also helped me a lot through employment, CV writing and public speaking which are skills that I never gained through school. I have learned so much from different young people I have met. It’s been really good and amazing.”

Follow the young leader winners on Instagram: @missdionne_music & @strilly12
If you’d like to know more about LEAP visit: www.leapconfrontingconflict.org.uk

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