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Whats The Play? With Anthony 'Play' Douglas

CHILLIN': Mr. Play in the Dominican Republic

HOLA FROM Punta Cana, Dominican Republic! I'm here on a two-part trip.

The first part, a much-needed relaxing break and the second part 'turning up' for memorial weekend at We Are DR Live. This week's column is the relaxing break part of the trip, I'll fill you in on the 'turn up' part next week!

THE GOOD LIFE: Mr. Play taking in some natural delights on the beach in the Dominican Republic

This is my fourth time in the Dominican Republic and I've stayed in a few different resorts. On this occasion I stayed at Club Med, Punta Cana in the Zen Oasis all-inclusive resort. The Zen Oasis is the VIP part of the resort with its own private section. The rooms were absolute quality, with an amazing view from the super-large balcony and speakers in your shower/bathroom that connected to your phone via Bluetooth. I hope I didn't disturb anyone with my shower singing..LOL!

The food and drink were good, quite a wide variety but (one of the downsides for me personally) - no baked beans for breakfast. Heartbreaking! Since I'm on the topic of downsides, the Wi-Fi connection was shocking! Hence my column being late (apologies).

BEST OF BRITISH: Mr. Play reps the UK

This resort is perfect for a family or couple's getaway. The activities, especially water sports are really good, there's so much available, but for a getaway with your boys..nah, this resort isn't the one. It's too big and disjointed.

FIT FOR A KING: Snaps from Mr. Play's hotel room at the Zen Oasis, Punta Canta, Dominican Republic

To end this piece on a super-positive, before I came to Punta Cana I was invited by my friend Stephanie D’Sa to the Lighting the Fire awards ceremony at Bloomberg LP London.

PICTURESQUE: Punta Canta in the Dominican Republic

I hadn’t heard of 'Leap' before, it was all new to me; and I learnt a lot on the night. Leap is a charity that provides conflict management training to young people in schools, communities and prisons across the UK. I was captivated by the stories and the impact that Leap has had on today’s young people. With the current soar in knife crime and re-offending, it’s crucial we invest in our younger generation.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Jamal Khan who won the Leap Young Leaders Award:

Q: How did you get involved with Leap?

A: I got involved with Leap through working with an award-winning youth engagement group I am a member of, the YIAG from Waltham Forest.

Q: What impact did they have on your life?

A: The most important impact Leap has had on my life was that they showed me a positive way to apply my experience of going through the care and criminal justice system. They have taught me that it's a valuable experience and instead of dismissing it, they embrace it. Because of this I have done a range of different work with Leap, from sitting on interview panels to sharing my experience at funding meetings. This is important because young people who come from a similar background are usually deprived of the opportunity to gain this experience. So when they are shown that there is an alternative way to apply their experience it gives them a sense of hope. It changes their perspective forever and with that their lifestyle changes too because they now aim for what they once thought they couldn't reach.

Q: What personal conflicts did you have to overcome?

A: A big personal conflict I had to overcome was decision making. Leap left me with a sense of clarity when I was provided with regular one to one meetings in which we would discuss my aims and ways to prioritise. Another form of conflict I found really hard to overcome was again internal. I used to quite often make up in my mind the reasons behind a persons actions without them stating their intention. My interpretations influenced my actions which would then lead to further conflict with the person. So when Leap broke down this thinking pattern it really helped in assessing my thought process and realising that an assumption is not a fact.

ACHIEVER: Jamal Khan after receiving his Leap Young Leader award

Q: With the recent soar of knife crime in the capital, what are Leap doing to support the young people involved?

A: I believe that the engagement Leap has been doing with young people is going to play a major part in the prevention of knife crime if it is rolled out on a wider scale. I believe this for many reasons, one of which is the fact that young people need help in decision making and if this guidance is provided it would prevent crimes like knife crime from taking place. If people were able to mentally asses and take control of their thought process there wouldn't be an issue with knife crime; because it all boils down to a matter of internal conflict which Leap is famously known for confronting. The fact that Leap supports people who have grown up around knife crime or have experienced it themselves puts them in a unique position where they are able to provide positive role models. This enables them to relate with young people who are affected by this issue so that when the young people hear these first hand experiences it could prevent them from engaging in knife crime.

Q: After winning your award for Leap Young Leaders, what's next for you?

A: I am aiming to release my debut book later this year, Words Within Walls. It's a compilation of diary entries, poems and short stories - all of which were written during the time I spent in prison two years ago. I'm also working with The Princes Trust on the development stages of a business idea I have in mind which they'll be funding so my aim is to turn the idea into a business within a year.

Follow Jamal Khan:

Instagram: @JamalKhanA1
Twitter: @RoarIntoWords

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