Foundation empowering Champs Fleurs youth - 'Give more and more will come'
Kadeem Graham, 32, believes that once an individual gives more, more comes. This forms part of the philosophical basis for his foundation Champs Fleurs and Friends Foundation, incorporated in 2021.
It is, however, not his chief reason. His reason is, to some, rather simple: for smiles.
Growing up in a single-parent home with limited resources taught him the value of cherishing what he has but also the importance of sharing with those who did not have a lot.
He was born and raised in Champs Fleurs with his mother, Natalie Graham-Huggins, and shared a home with extended family.
He attended Queen’s Royal College, Port of Spain, and went on to attain an associate’s degree in business, a bachelors in computer science and a masters in management. He works as a network and security administrator at Eastern Credit Union.
“I was not born with a gold spoon in my mouth. Growing up I did not have it easy. To come out of the system, I had to take in my education and try to achieve things some of my family members would not have achieved,” he said.
Graham said some of the things he achieved allowed him to break generational curses.
“I am aware there are other people and youth who maybe going through the same thing. I wanted to try to lend a helping hand, I decided to give back to the community and people around so I decided to form an NGO,” he said.
Since its incorporation, the foundation has done a number of projects including back-to-school drives, hamper distributions during the covid19 restrictions and beach clean-ups.
Graham hopes to launch another project soon with NGO All For the Youths during the July/August vacation period.
The foundation’s seven members believe in using activities to engage the youth, he said.
That is why it also partnered with the TT Jump Rope Federation to engage youth in the area.
The objective is also more than engagement he wants to give them a voice and the care and consideration that they may not get in their homes.
Graham said some children may feel powerless and may not get the love that they want in their homes.
“Through the foundation we try to listen to the children and try to assist them, in terms of making proper choices and giving them a voice.
“Love is important and we try to assist and help children feel understood. We try to help them move forward through this and feel a sense of belonging they can build on.”
Speaking to recent acts of violence in schools by students, Graham said he felt like the children were trying to outdo each other.
This was why the foundation felt it was important to give children a sense of belonging. The foundation reaches roughly 200 children per year.
Parenting also plays an important role in bringing change to the children’s lives.
Graham said, “Some of these kids their parents aren’t really involved in their lives.”
He said at a football tournament held last year some of the children were interested but the parents were not as enthusiastic.
The foundation had to purchase equipment for some the students such as boots and even socks.
“To try to get the parents involved, we tried to incorporate some free Government programmes to get them involved as well and bring that awareness to them.”
“Literally, the kids are being left to wander. The parents do what they do and the kids go roaming. When they go wrong and that is when trouble tends to strike.”
Graham said the foundation’s work is self-funded and all of its members pool their resources.
He said one member would go out and get assistance from corporate bodies and Eastern Credit Union has also assisted. The foundation might look at getting further funding in the future.
Graham said some people do charitable works for likes and following on social media but it should, instead, be done for the right reasons.
“Try to put a smile on someone’s face, someone who is less fortunate than you. Once you continue to give more will come in,” he said.
"Foundation empowering Champs Fleurs youth – ‘Give more and more will come’"