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'I want to help people become better versions of themselves'

Oxfordshire youth ministry Thrive is dedicated to developing leadership qualities in young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Here’s Devon’s story …

“When we first met Devon, he lacked confidence. It was like he had placed a ceiling on his own potential.

“But now, Devon, 18, is a young person who other young people look up to.

“Here, in his own words, is his story."

School, Games, Sleep, Repeat

‘I’ve always lived in Blackbird Leys. My parents split up when I was a kid, so I live with my mum and sisters.

‘I was never a confident person. I used to go to school, come home to play video games, go to sleep – and then repeat it all over again. 

‘I hardly spoke to anyone in my class at school.’

Uncovering Potential

‘A big turning point for me was when I was invited to a Thrive games club. A few of my friends were going – there’s no way I would have went on my own!

‘I met Kerstin and Aaron there (from Thrive Leys). They were people who I looked up to. And they seemed to believe in my potential – it was like they saw something in me that I didn’t even see myself. 

‘They asked me to join the Young Leaders programme. I was even given the chance to run some of the sessions. And that’s when I really started to grow in confidence. 

‘I started talking to people more, and listening to their problems. It turns out, I’m really good at it! One of my friends even said I should become a counsellor.’

Seeking Faith

‘My grandparents were Christians, but I didn’t go to church growing up. When I found out that Kerstin and Aaron were Christians, I started asking questions.

‘I met up with them to talk about faith. I felt like I could talk about anything.

‘I heard stories of people who follow Jesus. And I decided I wanted that to be my story too.

‘I even went to a church camp last month and brought two of my friends. It’s changed their lives!’

The Next Chapter

‘I’ve spent the summer working in the Thrive office. It’s felt good to give something back.

‘Now I’m off to university – to do a degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy. It feels strange, because no one in my family has ever gone to uni. But hopefully, in five years’ time, I’ll be a counsellor in a school or a prison. 

‘I want to help people become better versions of themselves. That’s what Thrive have done for me, and I’d love to do that for others.’

If you want hear more of Devon’s story, come and meet him at the Young Achievers Dinner. You can buy your tickets for the event on Saturday 14 October here.

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