Derek's Story

I was born premature. When people are born premature, they'd normally have talking difficulties or brain difficulties. I couldn't speak until the age of five. So it was very tough for me in primary school.

People called me names. They'd say I'm dumb or I'm stupid because I didn't really know how to express myself.

The place where I grew up, there was a lot of gun crime and knife crime. I was walking to go to the shop and there was a boy and he was like, 'give me your money before I shank you'. And then he put the knife towards my stomach. It was really scary.

Because of what I've experienced, I've never really liked public places. I didn't really like taking trains or buses because of the anxiety I had. It was like I was locked up in a box and I just needed to get out somehow but I couldn't.

I used to always say to myself, if I'm going to face all this then why was I even born? There were times when I had thoughts to even try and take my own life.

There was no one really to stick by me at that time.

The first time I heard about XLP was when I was 14 and I was introduced to Kevin. He became my mentor. I never really had a big brother or anything like that so that was the very first time that I really had someone to actually talk to.

It was hard at first, I was very shy. I had low self-esteem. So I didn't really want to open up that much. But he was more outgoing, so he would encourage me to push my limits. You know, to open up more, to express myself, and ask me questions.

Every year, XLP would have a talent showcase and Kevin persuaded me to perform. Everything just changed from there. I had a very big smile on my face when everyone was clapping. I felt so strong within myself. It gave me the belief I can achieve anything I want to.

So now I'm in university, studying Theology and Social Justice. I still do music and go to the studio. I have my own brand now, called All Dat running talent shows for young people who want to achieve something in music or drama or dancing or anything they want to do. You know it's something that's there for other people.

XLP has helped me to have confidence within myself. So I just want to thank XLP for helping me. I want to thank Kevin and all of the people that have helped me be who I am right now. Who have helped me to be All Dat.


Find out how to be a mentor and help a young person like Derek believe in themselves.