An inspirational young man from Newtownabbey has been chosen by the Prince of Wales as one of 50 UK #iwill ambassadors.
Jordan Caldwell (18) was among the speakers at Northern Ireland’s Step Up to Serve #iwill campaign second anniversary celebration event, held in Belfast recently.
Jordan, from Carnmoney, told the audience how getting involved in the campaign and participating in social action has been an amazing and confidence-building journey.
“For me, social action has been a way of dealing with challenges and learning from them to help others,” he explained.
“When I was 12 I was diagnosed with anorexia. My eating disorder was triggered by the tragic deaths of close family members which coincided with me being dropped by my local football team, and it all became too much. I was unable to cope with my emotions and I put all my energy into compulsive exercise and refusing to eat and drink. It was scary: it was almost like someone else was in control of my body.
“Through support, I was able to see that I had a problem and, even better, my problem had a solution. Now I’m in recovery and I’m only too aware about how much anyone can improve their health if they just keep a little faith.
“I’ve learnt that eating disorders like anorexia are not just about food, but are also about feelings. I know now that helping anyone at all is a bonus, even if it’s helping people one by one. By sharing my story and educating other young people about anorexia #iwill continue to keep fighting and raising awareness of anorexia, especially in males, and to help others fight the illness.”
Jordan added: “I feel that social action has changed me as a person for the best and given me a totally different outlook on life. I now know that I have no need to be ashamed about my illness and I don’t need to hide away.”
More than 100 guests including young people, supportive business, education and voluntary sector leaders joined Volunteer Now at the local Step Up to Serve #iwill campaign celebration.
Guest speaker Mervyn Storey MLA, Minister for Social Development, said: “Through programmes such as ‘Step up to Serve’ our young people bring the change they want to see in their community and indeed their world. They are developing the skills and gaining the experience they need to fulfil their potential and our communities are benefitting from great projects that enrich their local areas.”
#iwill, launched in November 2013 with the support of HRH the Prince of Wales, aims to increase by 50 per cent the number of 10-20 year olds taking part in meaningful social action by 2020.