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City Year Corps Member of the Month - January 2018: Emma Babarinde

Name: Emma Babarinde

School Serving: Lauriston Primary School, London

Hometown: North London

What made you decide to join City Year UK?

When I completed my undergraduate degree in sociology, I knew I wanted to make a positive difference within a school. I wanted to achieve this by acting as a mentor and a positive role model for children and young people. When I found out about City Year UK, becoming a volunteer mentor seemed like the perfect opportunity for me.

Why are you committed to serving with City Year?

I believe that education plays a huge part in the life of any individual, and with the right support, anyone can achieve a brighter future. As a child I experienced the need for extra support because I have sickle cell anemia and I experienced a stroke on the right side of my body while in school, two months before my sixth birthday. The stroke left me having to learn how to write with my left hand and with a lot of learning difficulties due to the damage caused to my brain. However, I made it through the education system and graduated with a 2:1 from university this year. Having achieved this, despite the obstacles that were thrown in my way from a young age made me think, "what was it that helped me to succeed?" Well, now I can look back and say with certainty, that it was the right support and the right encouragement. I was given additional support but was still expected to succeed by those around me. People believed in me and that is what made me believe in myself. This is why I am committed to serving with City Year, because it is an organization committed to helping children from disadvantaged communities to succeed in school. The disadvantages I faced in school did not prevent my success, and I am happy to support, encourage and motivate children through City Year. I want them to know that the obstacles they face don't have to stop them either. When children ask me if their dreams are possible, I say "anything is possible as long and you stay positive and motivated."      

How do you know you are making a difference?

I know I am making a difference when countless children say to me "when I grow up I want to be a City Year." This shows me that I am succeeding in my goal of being a positive role model for them. Children in my class acknowledge my hard work, and when they tell me that one day they would like to join City Year and help children like themselves, it makes me really happy because it shows me that they understand the importance of giving back to their community. They understand the role of a City Year volunteer mentor and why it is important, so much so that they want to be a part of it themselves.  

What does it mean to you to have Bain Capital sponsor your team?

It means everything to have Bain Capital sponsor my team because they have been invested in and supportive of City Year right from the start, before City Year had even reached the UK. Without the support of Bain Capital, I most likely would not be a part of City Year, which would be a shame because it has been such an amazing opportunity for me and the children I work with. Bain Capital will soon be visiting my team and I have been matched up to a Bain Capital Bridge Builder mentor. I am very excited about this because I have a lot that I plan to achieve in life, and having a mentor to help and support me will give me the knowledge and the confidence I need to continue to succeed after my year of service.

Please share a Starfish Story.

One Thursday, I was running art club, and I decided to ask the children to draw vision boards. I explained to them that I wanted them to reflect on what they wanted to achieve in their lives and draw pictures to represent that. It was a happy moment when I watched the children slowly begin to draw out their dreams, and I learnt a lot about them just from looking at their drawings. One child drew himself as a pilot, another drew themself living in a nice house with a spouse and children, another child drew herself singing in the London choir. A boy drew himself moving to New Zealand and starting a YouTube channel. One girl drew herself adopting kittens. It touched my heart to hear them discussing their hopes and dreams with one another and saying kind and supportive things to each other. They encouraged each other to pursue their goals and bonded over the visions they shared. It surprised me how some of the children were so young but yet so clear on what they wanted in life. I felt like I could understand the reasoning behind many of their aspirations.