Wednesday 12 June 2024
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Teenager on the wrong side of the law overhauled his life to become an inspiration

A teenager who was in with the wrong crowd and had police officers knocking on his door has been recognised with an award after completely turning his life around.

Realising he could end up in prison, Jahlil Kumar overhauled his life after a knock on his front door by Nottinghamshire Police’s criminal investigation department made him re-evaluate his life.

The 15-year-old – threatened with losing his freedom, friends, and family – turned his life around and with the help of a child youth support worker is now on the right side of the law and reaping the benefits of setting up his own business.

Jahlil has won the Lyrico Steede Award – named after the Bulwell teenager who was murdered in 2018.

The award was created as part of the force’s Live Our Best Life Awards and is aimed at recognising a young person who may have been involved in gangs, knife crime, or any other form of criminality but has turned their life around, made significant progress and is now an inspiration to others.

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At risk of permanent exclusion from school, dealing with trauma affecting his mental health, losing his grandmother and friend, and offending behaviour, Jahlil has now overhauled his life and is revising for his GCSEs to achieve his goal of working in electrical installation and becoming an entrepreneur.

“This all made me realise I had to fix up or I’m going to land on the wing with a lot of other people and I didn’t want to be having a friend reunion with people in jail,” Jahlil said.

He added: “Going into secondary school I was quite a lost child as I was seeing a lot of stuff and I was just trying to find out where I fit in.

“There was a lot going on in my early years. My dad was in and out of jail a lot and I started being around the wrong crowd you could say.

“My life started to collide a bit and sometimes I would be going in thinking about all the stuff that was happening outside of school and that same feeling would channel into school and made me start to lose focus and not want to be there. That caused me to start acting out, to be honest – I wasn’t going to my lessons, I was messing about, smoking weed, all sorts.

“But I realised growing up that a lot of the people around me were either in jail or they were in some mad situations and quite sad situations, so I really didn’t want to be like that.

“It was the turning point when I got arrested in school. I was 13-years-old and in year 9 and CID came and picked me up from school.

“It made me realise the allegations they were accusing me of were quite serious and I didn’t want to be sitting in jail at a young age and wasting my life. I wanted to do better and make money in the right way and survive.

“Things started to change when I met my support worker Stephen last year (2022) as I had a referral after I got stopped in a car with a friend. Nothing crazy happened, but Stephen helped me open up my eyes to a lot more that goes on in the world as the way I was going wasn’t going to do me any good.

“Since February 2022 we’ve been working on a lot of things, anger issues, communication, being more confident in communicating and building on basic skills.

“But I now want to go into electrical installation, get my degree in that and then go into property development and get myself on the property ladder, all while maintaining a reselling business as well.

“I want to make sure I can go to amazing places and bring all of my family with me.

“Coming from my situation, coming from the bottom, the only way is up and that’s where I see my future.”

Lyrico’s mother Keishaye Steede chose Jahlil as the winner of the category and will present him with the award at the star-studded ceremony at the end of April.

Jahlil was nominated by his child youth support worker Stephen, after seeing the youngster overhaul his life for the better.

Stephen said: “A referral came through because Jahlil was caught in a car with an adult and he was smoking weed. The adult was known to the police, so we met because of that as I work with children who are at risk of exploitation, youth violence, weapon crime and anything to do with drugs.

“The first thing I did was build a relationship and he came in bouncing full of energy and you could see he had charisma.

“Since meeting, we’ve done an assessment and set an intervention plan up, and then we started to work with his school and had meetings with them to tackle issues.

“But he’s done amazingly over these last 14 months – seeing his journey from boy to a young man has been amazing.

“With all the troubles he’s had, all the traumas he’s had to go through, and going to school every day and building those relationships up and the work bit by bit, this is why he’s flourished.

“I’m so proud of him, and he’s deserved it because he’s come and helped us out and done interviews and smashed it and he even came to Coventry to do some work on youth violence.

“He could be anything he wants now, an entrepreneur, the world is his oyster. Whatever he wants to be he can do it and that’s the main thing.

“These youngsters just need to know that someone believes in them and supports them through good and bad and in the end, you’ll see he’s turned into a diamond.”

The awards were launched as part of Nottinghamshire Police’s Stephen Lawrence Day celebrations and aim to recognise young people all across Nottinghamshire for their amazing talents, achievements, being inspirational, and overcoming adversity in their life.

Nottinghamshire Police’s youth outreach worker, Romel Davis, who launched the awards back in 2021, works with youngsters like Jahlil on a daily basis with the aim of helping them turn their lives around and look to the future.

Romel said: “I hope Jahlil’s story hits home for other youngsters who may be on the wrong path or making bad decisions that could potentially put them on the wrong side of the law.

“You can turn your life around and make better decisions and do a complete 180 on the path you’re on.

“Hearing Jahlil’s story and all the work he’s done to turn his life around makes him thoroughly deserving of this award.

“I want other young people out there to realise it is possible to change. Take Jahlil’s experience as an example, you can make better life choices, change your mindset and become an inspiration to other young people.”

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