I am Rasheed Downer. I am 13 years old and a high school student in Kingston, Jamaica. As one of my passions, I love track and field because it allows me to run, release all my stress, and be myself. However, even if it is an activity that I enjoy, 2021 was a year where I found it challenging to practice it because I lost someone really close. He was my coach, but also my best friend, school father, mentor, teacher, and so much more.
My inspiring story comes despite this sadness. Besides being my track and field coach, Nicholas taught me what it takes to be a leader. He shared with me that by helping others, we can create a name for ourselves by leaving our own legacy. Unfortunately, he left us too soon.
I remember him as someone who would go out of his way to help us, even taking from his own pocket to pay the medical expenses of a student in need, or if we needed something to eat or a pair of new shoes, he always tried to help. When we heard the news of his decease, I went into a state of depression and anxiety because I felt like the whole world was falling on me.
I wanted to quit the team, but eventually, I remembered my words to him. To this day, I still hold my promise that I will be a resilient student, and I will continue making my and his legacy by helping others. I want to make myself, and my coach, proud in everything I do, whether by running in the track and field team, helping other students, getting involved in youth organizations, being a peer counselor, or even hosting a radio show. Every day I wake up, I want to live it for him.
If I could advise youth during this pandemic, it would be to seek out a mentor. Especially in times like this, we all need someone a bit older, with more experience, who maybe has been in similar situations, and we can learn from their advice and, why not, their mistakes. If you feel you might be in a terrible situation, you do not have to go through it alone when all along there is someone who can help you through it. Receiving mentorship could benefit you for life and put you in a position to help others too.
Credit: Rasheed Downer, U-Reporter Jamaica