Daily Life with Okrah Donkor
Meet Okrah Donkor, Haarlem born of Ghanaian and Dutch descent. Raised in one of the toughest neighbourhoods, he chose to break the cycle and pursue positive change by founding the Triple Threat foundation. Triple Threat aims to motivate, stimulate and inspire the youth to be the best version of themselves. Okrah is a pioneer within his community, with the mission of changing narratives of the youth, a true inspiration for us all in our daily lives.
How did you decide you wanted to create your own youth initiative? Tell us about the TTT journey: Growing up in the so-called concrete jungle of Haarlem, Schalkwijk we know better than anyone what it is like to grow up with a lack. A lack of guidance, money, perspective or even love. We grew up with the feeling that we did not matter and did not really belong in this society. We often felt misunderstood, unheard and frustrated and for this reason we turned against society and all forms of authority. Affirming the imposed negative labels was an easy way out, but we were lucky enough to be able to walk a different path. We found a passion that we could hold on to and it gave us the outlet we so desperately needed. Playing basketball gave us structure, perspective and a lot of life lessons that we could translate into everyday life.
We believe that change must come from within and with this view, we started organising low-threshold activities in 2009 to encourage people to do more with their passion. The birth of Triple Threat.
It is not our intention to solve so-called problems caused by youth. It should be turned around in our opinion, see the qualities of youth, recognise the expertise and focus on opportunities youth offer.
A natural consequence is that problems are solved and can even be avoided.
Using passion as a means to give meaning to the lives of young people in, both inside and outside the lines, is vital. For now and for the future of the young people. Triple ThreaT has built a community where all young people can participate, learn socially and/or even excel.
With over 25 basketball teams, 600 participants a week we managed to grow into one of the largest youth communities in the Netherlands.
What’s your relationship with Basketball? And what role do fitness and meditation play in your life currently: I started playing basketball when I was 14 years old and it changed my life. Basketball gave me a purpose and I shaped my life accordingly. I had a goal of making it to the NBA and trained extremely hard every day to achieve that goal. It gave me discipline, mentality and a lot of life lessons. I went on to play basketball at a high level and became a coach at my club. Through this I saw the impact basketball can have on the lives of young people. I know my brothers through basketball and still use all the lessons in my daily life.
What's been the biggest challenge since starting TTT: The biggest challenge for us is realising our own home. We have the dream of having our own multipurpose complex where young people can fulfil their dreams.
From basketball, homework help to dance and music. We have been working for a few years now and I dare say it will work out! But it is an incredibly long and slow process, involving many political interests.
Could you tell us something about the Next Gen group: We consider a role model someone who can not only connect with his/her environment but is also able to take them to a higher level. Role models are persons who can and dare to break negative patterns. They can speak the language of the youth, but are aware of when to use it and when not to. They have a recognisable background, can identify with it but have outgrown this environment in different ways.
A role model is therefore a very difficult function, because it is something you are, you can't turn this function on and off when it suits you. A role model fulfils the need for life lessons, structure, warmth and simply being there. We train young people to become role models with our "Next generation" project. The moment we succeed in doing this with vulnerable youth, we make a real difference. These young people are the leaders of the future!
What's the best advice you've ever gotten: The best advice I've received is to learn to let go of the fact that you can't help everyone. We see many young people with a lot of talent and potential, but sometimes they choose to go in the wrong direction.
I had to learn the hard way that you can only help someone if they want to. The fact that we offered them a positive alternative that we did not have ourselves is what gives me satisfaction now.
How has your community shaped you: The community has shaped me in a big way. I really see our community as a family, everyday I am surrounded with positive people who are there for each other and want to encourage each other to be the best they can be brings me immense happiness. The whole reason I do what I do is because of the community, they give me strength, faith and inspiration. I enjoy every day the growth of young people that I get to witness up close.
Why do you think workshops such as these are important: Workshops like this are incredibly important because the next generation comes into contact with people from similar situations and backgrounds, it is therefore incredibly inspiring and important to see that this path is also open to them. Broadening perspectives and transferring knowledge from within the culture is essential.
The participants were extremely excited, but especially inspired and motivated to use all the gems they received during the workshop in their own journeys. An unforgettable day!