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Omari playing flag football

Guest blog: BIGKID Foundation tells Omari’s story

  • Social Inclusion

This week's guest blog comes from our strategic partner, BIGKID Foundation, who we have supported since 2016. BIGKID are on a mission to end youth violence and exclusion across London through a range of activities and their community hub in Brixton. Read on to learn more about Omari's journey with BIGKID.

Omari’s first introduction to life at BIGKID was through the early stages of our flag (non-contact version of American football) community sessions at Larkhall Park in 2018. Quickly falling in love with the sport, although it was his first time playing, Omari became a regular and immediately felt at home.

‘I remember my first session like it was yesterday. The vibes, the people, the feeling that no matter the number of participants, you were cared for, was unmatched. I was always naturally a quiet child, who had an abundance of energy and personality but was reluctant to share it, as I never felt at home outside of my own home. Well, BIGKID is where I found that sense of belonging.’

Omari has had a tough home life, which has seen him mature far beyond his years. Although he is the third child out of four, Omari has always had to step up and hold things together whenever his Mum isn’t well. Suffering with fibromyalgia, chronic arthritis amongst other health issues, his Mum is constantly in and out of hospital for surgical procedures. His constant heroics at home have seen him become a pivotal figure, where he is now admired by his siblings, but that has also come at a price.

‘I’m a big Star Wars fan and have always seen Anakin Skywalker as a hero but not even George Lucas can replicate my real hero. My Mum. It isn’t easy to constantly see my mum in pain and get on with my day, but I still do. Although I’m not the oldest I’ve had to step up beyond my years to hold the fort at home, this has meant that I constantly feel as though I’ve missed out on my childhood, opportunities and just life in general. BIGKID has helped me immensely to get through these times, especially Jonathan and more recently Dellali. They’ve put countless smiles on my face, provided opportunities for me to unlock my potential and just been what is like big brothers to me.’

Omari hasn’t let home life stop him from propelling forward and giving back to others. During lockdown he hosted daily 45-minute workouts via BIGKID’s Instagram live, which both directly and indirectly impacted the lives of countless people across not just his community but several corners of the world. Taken his talents in American Football and been a part of Team GB U19 contact, the NFL Academy, captained our U17 flag team to finals, captained South London Renegades U19 Contact team and now has his eyes set on Team GB’s Adult Flag team. Throughout this Omari has also become a qualified sessional coach and referee, helped to deliver our schools programme as a sessional coach, become a copywriter and is now one of BIGKID’s Programme Officers, working in our media department. In the last year he’s also challenged his fear of public speaking, presenting on behalf of BIGKID at a global conference in Trinidad, tried long distance running by taking on the Royal Parks Half and been shortlisted for a Lambeth Civic Award for Sporting Achievement.