Over the past year, the Rio Ferdinand Foundation (RFF) have been working with Jess, 16, on her own youth leader project. In partnership with Can’t Dance Can, based in Rochdale, Jess shared experiences from her life through spoken word and dance on stage. We matched her with a pro-mentor and helped her to plan her idea, gather resources, arrange rehearsals and set up a venue for her project.

Jess says, “I created a dance routine about my life story because I wanted to show people that, no matter what you have been through, if you want to do something, you can do it. I also wanted to express my feelings to my family.

“I choreographed a dance routine and professional dancers performed while I spoke about my life.”

Before the performance, Jess says she felt nervous. “I’ve never performed in front of hundreds of people before!” she says. “But when I got there, I felt empowered – I knew I was in control of the performance.

“…I felt empowered… I got my message and my feelings out there and now I feel more confident.”

“When it was done, I felt relieved – I got my message and my feelings out there and now I feel more confident.”

Watch her performance below.

Jess is now working with RFF as part of the #Achiever’s Forum of young leaders who have completed their projects to co-design a workshop for young people transitioning to high school, whilst also volunteering with mental health charity 42nd Street.