Osmond Gordon-Vernon grew up on the Winstanley Estate in Battersea, south west London. At aged 14, in 2013, he joined a pilot project run by Battersea Arts Centre called The Agency, which assists young people who have an idea for positive social change.
Osmond developed a board game called Life Is What U Make It, based on his own experiences and to help other young people understand the consequences of making certain decisions. He wanted to connect with them in a relatable way, so they could make positive life choices rather than succumb to crime and gang culture, as well as educate adults about life for this generation.
Based on the game Ludo he loved playing with his board game-fanatic grandmother, Life Is What U Make It has its own money as well as Gang Zone questions instead of Chance cards and Karma Bricks instead of hotels. Osmond also championed the benefits of sitting round a table together with a game, rather than a digital version, so it was more engaging and social, with less chance of distraction.
After spending 24 weeks developing his game, Osmond secured £2,000 of funding in December 2014 from The Agency to make it a reality. Following further funding and trials in schools as part of their Key Stage 3 curriculum over the last ten years, Osmond has developed a new life-sized version of the game for outdoor festivals, as well as workshops for schools in Wandsworth.
He is still involved with Battersea Arts Centre and The Agency as an alumni and has an ambition to create a live action version of the game on his estate. Osmond, now 24, says: “I gained confidence and learned how to speak up for myself as part of this project. I’ve tried to use my opportunities to show other people from my community that there is another way forward in life.”
“I can’t tell you how much I appreciate winning the Young Hero Award. I grew up on the Winstanley Estate in Battersea, and joined The Agency at Battersea Arts Centre when I was 14 years old and determined to make positive life choices."
"The people there supported me to realise my potential by building my boardgame, Life Is What U Make It, to help other young people understand the consequences of making certain decisions. I hope winning this award shows others that they can achieve whatever they want to achieve if they put their mind to it.”
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