Who I Am Today: Amyn Ali’s keynote speech at Leap’s 2019 Pledge Dinner

Amyn Ali - Leap Trainer
Wednesday 30th October 2019

Amyn Ali is a Leap trainer. On Tuesday 29 October he delivered a keynote speech at Leap’s Pledge Dinner. Below is an extract from his speech:

 

My journey has been one of ups and downs. Leap has been a huge part of that journey, and I am really happy to be able to share it with you tonight.

I first graduated from one of Leap’s community programmes in 2012 and am now a qualified young trainer. For four years, I have co-facilitated Choice to Change courses to youth offending teams, pupil referral units, schools and youth groups. Through my work with Leap, I was awarded the Young Leader Award at their annual Lighting the Fire awards in 2016.

My other great passion is fitness. I am a qualified bodyweight instructor and Brighton’s lead representative for Callisthenics UK. I have also built my own social enterprise, ‘Pull to Progress’, which is focused on creating sustainable healthy relationships with fitness in the community, improving mental and physical health through natural body weight movements.

 

That’s who I am today, but now let me tell you how I got today.

I grew up in Glasgow and I was not the easiest person to bring up. I had a lot conflict with my mum, and quite honestly I gave her hell from a young age, destroying our relationship for many years.

At the time, I didn’t really understand this conflict. Looking back now, I can understand it a lot better. A lot of it was around my own identity, who I was becoming and finding my place in society. As a Glaswegian African Afghani, this was a little tricky.

Where I lived was full of its own conflicts on the streets, involving drugs, alcohol and violence. Within this world, I was living very destructively in my behaviours and actions.  Drinking heavily at the time was normal for me. It was a way of dealing with the environment and not dealing with myself.

This toxic relationship only escalated. I left home at 15 and spent time in supported accommodation around Glasgow in some less than favourable places.

When I turned 18, I started feeling an overwhelming need for change in my life. Not knowing what the change was, I made a decision to leave Glasgow with £5, 2 suitcases and a lot of regrets.

 

Little did I know I would end up in Brighton.

During my time in Brighton, I lived homeless on the streets. However, looking back, I see this as the best thing that could have happened to me.

It made me reflect on my past actions, which quite honestly was a first. This really pushed me to start applying myself to get my housing sorted, to take part in youth activities, exercising and starting to make positive changes.

It was around that time that I first heard about Leap from a mentor. My first thought was that I had left all my conflicts behind, but I was intrigued to find out more. I managed to interview successfully for Leap’s Choice to Change course.

The authentic personalities and honest rapport I built with the trainers captivated me and took me on a journey along with the other 10 participants on the course.

The structure and trust built by Leap trainers helped me massively. I was able to openly give and dissect some of my experiences that I had previously locked away. In doing so, we realised that our conflicts were not too different.

The opportunity to have these discussions with my peers in a safe environment was a huge catalyst to understanding myself better and creating new options, not just in conflict but in life.

 

Looking back now, I can confidently say that I do not regret any of the decisions I’ve made because they have made me who I am today.

I am privileged to support young people and adults to make positive changes in their lives through Leap training and street workout fitness. I could not have reached this point without Leap.

Reflecting on my own journey and where I have ended up, I am hopeful that other young people will receive similar support.

 

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