Sadiyah Desai has found her voice thanks to the National Citizen Service (NCS) programme with Preston North End Community and Education Trust.
The 19-year-old suffers with learning difficulties and severe sight loss, which has seriously lowered her confidence levels throughout her life.
However, she has overcome the restrictions of her lifelong disability and owes her newfound confidence to NCS – a two-week programme which provides young people aged 16 and 17 the opportunity to make new friends, develop new skills and create new memories.
“The whole experience has made a massive impact on me,” Sadiyah summaries. “My time on NCS helped me gain confidence in asking for support and showed me it is not something to be ashamed of.
“This has had a very positive impact on what I can now do at college and even at home. NCS has showed me how much I can achieve.”
As part of the programme, Sadiyah participated in a disability awareness workshop, in which she approached NCS team members and spoke up about how her own disability has affected her confidence and self-esteem levels throughout her life.
Sadiyah was encouraged within the initiative to speak about topics and areas she was most passionate about to group members. As a devout Muslim, she illustrated enlightening items connected to her faith, developing her public-speaking and presentation skills in the process.
Brad North, NCS Coordinator, says: “Sadiyah transformed from someone who could not speak to her classmates or answer questions in a classroom environment to speaking with confidence to some of the most senior officials connected with both NCS and her college.
“Her journey is one the NCS team will always be proud of and it continues to motivate the team to deliver NCS in the hope to inspire the next young person.”
Sadiyah greatly enjoyed the number of activities that were performed during her NCS experience, particularly highlighting Zumba as a joy to participate in.
“Leading Zumba was my favourite NCS activity to do,” she reveals. “Before NCS, I never would have had the confidence to lead a Zumba session. NCS allowed me the opportunity to achieve that.
“I always thought people would laugh at the thought of me doing any type of choreography, but with the help of Brad and Jess, I started to lead the session and that is an experience I will never forget.
“I taught myself something that day – that if you think you are good at something, then never be scared of expressing yourself. Leading Zumba is an experience I will never forget and is something I continue to do in class on a regular basis.”
After significantly developing herself in such a short amount of time, Sadiyah volunteered to the NCS Changemakers programme at PNECET, leading on upcoming Ramadan projects.
More recently, she has had the opportunity to speak about her NCS Journey and the impact it has had with key figures, including the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Steve Barclay, and CEO of NCS, Mark Gifford.
Sadiyah met Mark at North End’s annual NCS matchday and was selected by PNECET to be their special guest.
She adds: “I really enjoyed it. I was so happy that I was chosen to attend the matchday out of all the NCS participants. It just shows how much I have achieved.”