The 30 Under 30 awards, brought about by BirminghamLive, is an initiative designed to showcase and recognise some of the most inspirational people who make their city tick.
After the people of Birmingham nominated the finalists, who were all between the ages of 16 and 30, a panel of judges – including representatives of Citizens UK, One Million Mentors and The Prince’s Trust – will make the final call.
One of the nominees, 24-year-old Abed Ahmed, suffered from a stammer since around the age of four – but he didn’t get any help, or even speak to his family about it, until he was 19.
Despite that, he still managed to achieve his childhood ambition of becoming a teaching professional. Even though he was told by someone at a teaching fair that his stammer would stop him being able to do that; an incident which only served to reinforce his determination.
Not only is he a fully-fledged teacher now, but he’s been shortlisted for the ‘UK’s Best New Teacher’ title at the TES Awards (formerly known as Times Educational Supplement Awards). That’s two prestigious awards he’s up for. So, what’s his story? Well, he started by grabbing a degree in sport and education from Newman University. He then won a place on Birmingham City University’s teacher training programme.
One year after that, he got his first teaching job. He teaches maths – at his old school, Holte School in Lozells. But he doesn’t just explain times tables, fractions and the dreaded algebra. He also runs a support group that helps students who also have a stammer.
Last year, Abed was featured in a BBC Three show – Amazing Humans – in which he shared the work he has done to empower his pupils who have a speech impediment like him. On top of that, he created and released a YouTube video to hype International Stammer Awareness Day. Here it is…
“Lozells is a very deprived area – there are lots of problems for children outside of school,” Ahmed told Birmingham Mail. “Because I’m from Lozells myself, I feel the kids respond to me because they know I understand what they’re going through.
He added: “I’m a very proud Brummie and proud to be working in Lozells.”
Anyone who’s ever been to high school knows that kids can be cruel, especially when it comes to visible disabilities like a stammer. So, what was it like for Abed when he went back to his old high school, owned his disability and started teaching the kids?
“One or two will mimic me but the majority are respectful in class because they appreciate I am so open about the condition,” he says. “The kids respect the fact I’m open with them about it.”
“Largely they are supportive – they will tell me: ‘Don’t worry about it, we don’t care’. They can see it hasn’t stopped me doing anything. It helps that they think I’m a bit of a star due to the BBC Three documentary.”
It seems that Abed is a great example of the fact that if you put your mind to something, channel all your energy into a goal and ignore the haters, you really can achieve anything. And if you do achieve your dreams, it’s important to give back to your local community which shaped you into the person you are.