Inspiring youth at Momentum 2014

By - Tuesday 13th May, 2014

“Any dream that you’ve got, you can make it achievable”, said Chris Preddie OBE. This was the message behind the youth conference, Momentum 2014, which was held to inform and inspire young people

Photo by Angela Nott. Used with permission.

On April 9th, Fairfield Halls was brimming with young people who engaged in workshops, visited various stalls and enjoyed an afternoon of live performances that helped them to realise that anything is possible. Organiser of the event, Andrew Brown said: “It’s about moving our young people from one place to the other. It’s making them aware of what’s going on in their community. It’s about us trying to open up the eyes of our young people”.

Workshops on the subjects of sexual health, confidence building, young visionaries, apprenticeships, entrepreneurship and drugs awareness took place during the first half of the day. Volunteer, Rhia, said that the young people seemed to respond positively to the workshops.

Photo by Angela Nott. Used with permission

Over fifty stalls were set up to provide information on careers, apprenticeships, volunteering, employment, community activities and more. Organisations in attendance varied from charities and colleges, to recruitment agencies and community projects. One of the stalls was Salsa Naturally, it is a six week salsa course for 11-25 year olds, set up by Ruth Ferguson 15 years ago. Her teenage daughter, Jazmine, has also been salsa dancing for five years and was a participant in the International Dance Federation World Championship last year.

The Casapedia Project, which also had a stall, provides flexible work experience for students, school leavers and the unemployed, simply through individuals registering online, paying a small fee and then completing a test. According to Michael ‘The Dood’ Edwards, once you are registered with Casapedia, “it’s for life”.

They believe the number of government cuts to services for young people is unacceptable

Another stall was The Future of Croydon, a platform which showcases the abundance of young talent, through production, short films, fashion shows, a magazine and various events. Ashley Anderson, who works for the organisation said: “The aim was to show the positive side of Croydon”.

Young Minds a charity which works specifically on behalf of young people for their emotional wellbeing had a stall to promote its work. They believe the number of government cuts to services for young people is unacceptable. The charity currently needs 50,000 signatures from young people who want to see a change in the factors affecting their emotional wellbeing, which include bullying, school stress and unemployment.

For the second half of the conference, the young people were entertained and inspired by a mass line-up of live performances and presentations. Charismatic and energetic host Chris Preddie OBE captured the attention of the audience from the moment he stepped on stage, wearing pink bunny ears. He says: “I like being outside the box. I’m always looking for a way to try different things”.

Chris Preddie OBE.
Photo by Angela Nott. Used with permission.

From the beginning, the audience was encouraged to embrace hard work, as their host prompted them to recite the catchphrase, “Call me a nerd, call me a geek, in ten years time, you’ll be working for me”. They later got a taste of where hard work might lead them, as they listened to a motivational speech from solicitor, Manisha Knights, who runs a firm with 35 employees. She said: “Work hard and you’ll get where you want to be. Believe in yourself and you can do anything”.

Street dance group, Urban Future, opened with an artistic routine and then performed a gritty and vigorous second routine, which livened up the audience. The unique dance group, Fantastic 5, also set the crowd alight with their combination of street and contemporary dance styles. These five young men were energetic and emotive, commanding the audience as their performance continued to build.

The Deputy Mayor of Croydon, Badsha Quadir, presented the ‘Community Achievement Award’ and ‘Be Inspired Award’ to Rachel Chrystie and Montel Beck respectively in honour of their community activities. The audience was also encouraged to get involved during a panel discussion on the subject of politics. Previous Young Mayor of Lewisham, Jacob Sakil, said: “If we’re going to talk about politics… we need to help each other… Politicians don’t have the answers”.

Discussion Panel.
Photo by Angela Nott. Used with permission.

Brixton comedian, Kae Kurd, delivered an inspirational, informative and humorous message that had everyone laughing. One of the first things he said was, “I think young people are the future, but we don’t get appreciated like we should do”. Talented beatboxer, Deep Vocals, captivated the audience by replicating well-known and legendary beats – including his take on Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean – which had individuals dancing and singing along.

However, two of the most popular acts were singers Zanae Parks and Kamal Cain. Zanae bought an RnB vibe to her strong, soulful rendition of Etta James’s ‘At Last’, which was a hit with everyone from the first note. It was a shock to learn that Kamal was just 14-years-old, as he seems to sing from deep in his heart with a sweet, beautiful voice that draws you in and touches something inside of you.

Kamal Cain.
Photo by Angela Nott. Used with permission.

Rapper, MC Brown, who created the theme song for Momentum, was the last act to perform before special guest artist Donaeo closed the show with some of his hits, including Party Hard, which had the young people dancing and going out on a high note.

The young people enjoyed all that the conference had to offer and were entertained by the afternoon antics. “The acts were inspirational, because it shows you that you can be successful”, said a young female.

Momentum was also an enjoyable experience for its 50 volunteers. The majority of the volunteers were young people – the youngest being 10 years old – who Andrew Brown says will “stop what they’re doing to come and help at the events”. Volunteer Siobhan most enjoyed seeing the young people enjoy the event and said “it is hectic but always goes well”.

This was the second Momentum and Andrew hopes to make the next event bigger and better, as they continue to inspire a growing group of young people by helping them to discover new opportunities and work towards their future.

Shaniqua Benjamin

Shaniqua Benjamin

Shaniqua is a writer and poet, born and raised in Thornton Heath, which she is proud to call her home. She has used her passion for making a difference to found a platform, Young People Insight, which empowers the voices of young people and encourages community engagement. When she’s not writing or trying to cause change, she loves reading, scrapbooking, watching films and listening to music.

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