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Brent business hosts youth leadership initiative

PICTURED: Shaun Wallace, Dawn Butler MP with award winners

YESTERDAY (Oct 15) was a special day in North West London – not only because it was as warm 20 degrees but also because we witnessed the birth of a much needed local event.

The Young Leaders Achievement Awards hosted by Mane Culture, a local Barber and Hair styling studio, created an award cerermony which celebrates the achievements of local future leaders.

The brainchild of Kevin De la Rosa, Kirk Shirley and Edward Reise, the event was well attended by local residents eager to lend their support to this initiative.

DYNAMIC TRIO: Kirk Shirley, Edward Reise, Kevin De la Rosa

One resident Filomeno Rosario who was in attendance with his son Carlos, said: "I think that it is very important for young people today to see that the older generation really do care about them.”

When asked why he had brought his son Carlos along, he said: "I have brought my son so that he could listen to the speakers, as I know that it will serve as a positive example to him".

ATTENDEES: Filomeno Rosario & Carlos Rosario

There were a number guest speakers scheduled, including Dawn Butler MP Brent central, who was also scheduled to present certificates. She said: "It's great that local businesses especially barbershops who have the attention of parents for around half an hour each week, are able to use this opportunity to promote and educate their audience.”

“I am especially proud of Mane culture barbers for organising this youth leadership initiative, as well as the young people who performed well in exams to gain these awards and I look forward to them succeeding and leading in everything that they do.”

Another guest speaker and certificate presenter was Shawn Wallace (Master Mind Champion 2004 and Star of ITV's the Chase). Shaun gave a very inspired presentation where he charted his journey from a barrister living locally in Wembley to the winner of Mastermind 2004, amassing 24 points with no passes using his specialist subject, FA Cup finals. This ultimately changed the course of his life and opened up his present opportunity of being one of the stars of ITV's The Chase.

Amongst the many things that Shaun said, one of the statements that stands out is that in his opinion, the mastermind win shattered he glass ceiling and showed that as a community "we are more than just rappers" and that "we can show the world that we are clever".

He finished up with some strong words of encouragement "The educated mind is the most empowering thing you can possess.” Powerful stuff indeed.

Awards were presented to eleven young leaders nominated for a number of things, good grades and passes at GCSE level, attitude, persistence and overall good qualities as young leaders.

The award recipients on the day were:

Javan Wright – Keizer, Sam Tchoukeu, Shae Dwyer, Ikema Camacho, Ayisha De la Rosa, Jayeasha Haley, Martinah Sengendo, Kenisha Bossa’ Sean Clement – Gay, Kyrese Tatt and Niyah Kigozi.

During the Q&A session, a question was posed to both speakers by a member of the audience: "How do you find time to be both successful and stay connected and in touch with the community at the same time?”

Shaun Wallace said: ”I like to think that i have remained the same person throughout all of my success. I basically still have the same circle of friends and have the same interests. He further added." I want to leave a legacy and empower and inspire people who are coming up behind me"

COMMUNITY SUPPORT: Dawn Butler MP, Shaun Wallace, Seanie B

Dawn Butler was asked how does it feel to be constantly judged as female MP, and she answered: “As a woman MP you are constantly judged - people you meet in the community sometimes think they know you and have to make a quick assessment of you, but basically I am the same person that I have always been.”

“I have very strong honest standards and I really want to make a difference in this community and believe in its people and their strengths. I am really pleased and thankful to have good family and friends and people in the community who support me.

Another speaker was BBC 1Xtra DJ and The Voice Newspaper columnist, Seani B. The radio DJ is a long-time customer at Mane Culture and when he heard about the initiative he wanted to add his support.

He started off by outlining that although he has achieved a level of success, he still works extremely hard and wanted young people present to understand that hard work is a major precursor to success – talent alone is not enough sometimes.

He added that he wishes that he had taken full advantage of the education system at a young age, as he believes that if he had done so, he would be in a more powerful space in his day to day life.

“Parents, please support your children in whatever career path they choose to follow,” he said:

He finished off with a rally for the community to stand together and work together and was met with a massive round of applause.

Eric Sterling, a local teacher, took the microphone and noted that he’d been cutting his hair with Kevin de la Rosa for many years and had grown up within the Mane Culture barber shop family.

“There is greatness within being black, you can easily lose faith at a young age and there are many challenges but try to learn from these and build another layer and believe in yourself,” said Eric.

Free refreshments were served on the day and a good time was had by all who attended.

Next years event looks like it will be bigger and better.

Mane Culture Unisex Hair Salon is based in 309 Neasden Lane, London, NW10 1QR. Contact them at: 0203 601 2990

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