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R'chelle James (13yrs) Speech at Warden Park School to 300 students

posted 26 Feb 2012, 04:05 by Brighter Steppings   [ updated 28 Feb 2012, 00:56 ]

Its 4.30am and I’m staring at my watch and my speech pondering, questioning if I’m ready for this.  After half an hour of thought I decided that the best course of action would be to seize the opportunity I had been given by Brighter Steppings & Resilience and to learn from it.  The previous 24 hours had been rough, I felt unwell and a bit down so as I got dressed I kept questioning myself “am I doing the right thing” I began repeating the affirmation I can, I can motivate and inspire other young people.

So I left the house with my mum and made the journey by train to London Bridge, I closed my eyes and reflected on the major changes in my life, my mum, my sister, and my best friends came to mind, they were people who I had grown to trust and who never gave up on me.  These people have been my support system through an extremely tough year.  Then I thought of my attacker and the gang of young people who surrounded me, and where sometimes in the past I felt anger, I felt a need to thank them in my head because, what I learned from this experience is shaping the adult that I am becoming.  I am now more in touch with reality and can say with conviction how much I value resilience and confidence. I reflected on my new found appreciation for the circumstances of other young people like myself, their support need and learning to forgive and basically let go of the negative and move on as hard as that can be sometimes. In my view as harsh as it is being attacked gave me a new appreciation for life and every opportunity I have received ......... now before I get lost in my reflections and get too far off track, we got off at London Bridge and were searching for the correct platform, nervousness was setting in and each step I took I needed to take a really deep breath.  We finally reached Chris Jones, Director of Resilience and with him were Nana and her father so we joined the others and waited for Seun (Director of Brighter Steppings) who was running slightly late.... Seun met us and thankfully our train was delayed.  I mentioned having been ill the day before and feeling rough, this meant that I had to prepare my cue cards on the train and giving Seun an overview which I did after arriving at Warden Park School.  At this point Nana’s speech was fully prepared and I began to question “will I have the right impact” but I kept it too myself......


We walked through to the hall where we would be presenting and began to get organised almost like a dress rehearsal, within what seemed like seconds, the hall filled up with 300 students and it was time for Nana to give her speech.  Chris Jones set the scene and gave a focus for the day’s activities and then introduced Nana in the context of two extremely powerful words confidence and resilience.  Nana gave her speech it was amazing it left me frozen it was beautiful (as Seun would say) to see her determination, her resilience, her confidence, to continue although she had faced serious challenges.  It was wonderful to see on the faces of the students that they appreciated and benefited from it......

We broke into groups and joined in the class discussions on the topic “I’m not good enough” I realised then that my feelings were normal, other people in my age group feel this way too.  More importantly for the topic to be the theme of a whole day helped me appreciate its importance.  It helped me to focus on the support that we have, for me that is my family, and good friends (Szhara, Anita, Emira, Rekaine, K-ci, Suraj and so many other true good friends.  By the time we got through the booklet it was time to go back to the hall and for me to give my speech.  Chris Jones invited me up and I started I wanted them to realise the similarities so I told them I was just like them.  I was ok until I got to the portion where I relived the day I was attacked.  I froze because it could not come from a piece of paper, I valued the fact that I had prepared but for impact this bit needed to come from my heart.  I wanted to make that emotional connection that would best teach them what I felt and as it goes I couldn’t stop myself I stood in front of them and cried.  In that moment I experienced sadness but there was happiness in there too because I had learnt a life lesson that I had shared with all in the room.  I learned that in life there will be many obstacles, some we may knock down others will knock us down, for me resilience is not about how many times you fall it’s about how many times you pick yourself up.   I also learned that shared triumph brings greater happiness, in short help someone else, and give yourself to support others. 
We’re all far from perfect, so we are going to fall and rise and I realised I do have something valuable to share.  6 students came up to me after my speech  and said I inspired them, wow I realised there is a need for young people to understand  the need for resilience and in some small way I have touched 300 people.  I have so much to be thankful for; the wonderful people in my life, and now the 300 strong Warden Park students who are now part of my resilience journey, my experience with you students taught me new things about myself and made me even stronger.
By: R'chelle James, 13 years old
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