Bramcote teenager overcomes bullying and vows to help others
Overcoming school bullying has encouraged a Bramcote teenager to stand up for his peers to “stop it happening to anyone else”.
Michael Walsh, who has ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) said he was teased at school as a result of reading out loud in class.
Now the 16-year-old, who has since moved on to Beeston Central College, focuses his efforts on befriending other young people in similar situations.
“I didn’t have many friends until I was about 15,” said Michael. “I was bullied most of my life and have trust issues because of it. But last year I decided I had had enough.
I joined Stapleford Youth Club and made a lot of new friends. It was difficult at first, but they made me feel included. Now I want to do my bit to stop it [bullying] happening to anyone else.
“I like to think I’m now an inclusive person, which is a big change because I used to get really nervous around new people.”
His selfless deeds include helping to form the Suspended Coffee Notts group, which has made coffee shops in central Nottingham sign up to give freebies to homeless people in return for a donation from a customer.
“Homeless people are on the streets and all night and must get cold,” he said. “It’s nice for them to have a coffee, keep warm and make friends.”
He even had his head shaved to raise money for a Stapleford charity shop which raises cash for leukaemia research – dressed as Spiderman.
“One of my mum’s friends who used to cut hair did it right in the middle of Stapleford on Derby Road,” he said.
Michael also sits on a forum that decides which youth centres should receive council funding. And he is hoping to run for Nottinghamshire County Council’s youth parliament next year.
Youth worker Paul Bailey said: “Michael is always positive and enthusiastic and is a giver in all senses of the word.
“He is a great example of a young person who has had to struggle to negotiate schooling, education and bullying – yet is ready to help others in the community.”
Michael has been nominated for the county council’s 4Uth Award, backed by the Post, which celebrates the achievements of young people in the area.
Councillor Liz Plant, vice chairman of the council’s children and young people’s committee, said: “Michael is a real asset to Stapleford Young People’s Centre and is fully involved in many of the key activities.”