A 14-year-old boy from Toxteth will represent the UK in a European final to select a youth ambassador for an international social welfare organisation.
Lions Clubs International selected teenager Khan Odita - who’s already an author and established community activist - as its youth ambassador for the British Isles last week.
He will now compete at an event in Croatia to determine who will be named its European ambassador in October.
Khan was just two days into what would be his most fruitful school half-term yet when he learned he had been announced as Lions Clubs International’s youth ambassador.
You wouldn’t call it your average half-term, but Khan isn’t a stranger to doing extraordinary things, especially when it comes to helping his local community.
How Khan’s activism began
He was first introduced to community activism through filmmaking, his first passion, when creating a short documentary about a fly-tipping issue in his local area.
Khan told LiverpoolWorld: “[Fly tipping] has been an issue for as long as I can remember in my community, like in many, so I decided I’d be the one to try and rectify the problem.”
That short film led to the creation of Mulgrave Street Action Group (MSAG), a community interest company he established over summer last year to bring about positive change for the residents of Mulgrave and surrounding streets.
The group runs schemes such as their garden project, which looks to turn previously neglected land into a lush community garden.
A passion project
“Helping my community is something I love doing. I make time for it whenever I can. I think I’ve got balance between school and work with MSAG,” Khan says.
“There are some times when schoolwork becomes a bit much and I do have to stop it for a day, but I do have a good balance otherwise.”
“I don’t get any special treatment compared to anybody else, that would be unfair. And it’s not something that has much to do with school so I’ve never really thought about asking for a bit of extra time, because I don’t really need it to be honest.
“I just do my schoolwork like everybody else and get on with MSAG when I can.”
Topically, schools are one of the next areas Khan is looking to target with his activism.
Khan’s next project
His appointment as Lions Clubs’ Youth Ambassador for the British Isles came with the opportunity to launch a personal project.
Khan opted for a schools literacy project that also aims to celebrate individuality and quash bullying.
It’s this project that will be part of the criteria for his bid to become a European ambassador.
The Toxteth teenager will utilise his own books, which advocate for inclusion, to educate school children and to celebrate difference.
The project aims to be rolled out in Liverpool and internationally.
“The book, My Friend Who Didn’t Speak, cultivated a conversation in classrooms about bullying, and being unique and true to yourself, which is something that many kids may struggle with,” Khan explains.
“I hope the book can help inspire those qualities in people, and also inspire other young people to become authors because it’s not often that you see people of my age, from my area, who are young authors, who write.
“Generally, reading as well for my generation has been on a slope downwards, so it’s good to help inspire that as well.
“I have a love of literacy and I want to help other people find that love in themselves.”
If you want to support Khan and Mulgrave Street Action Group’s work, you can find them on Twitter, or donate on their JustGiving page.