Speaking for Ourselves

Creating change through sports: Gad Turuthi’s mission to build community, from Kenya to the UK

Creating change through sports: Gad Turuthi’s mission to build community, from Kenya to the UK


 Migrant Voice - Creating change through sports: Gad Turuthi’s mission to build community, from Kenya to the UK

Gad Turuthi's journey is driven by a calling: to empower young boys to realise their fullest potential. Throughout his life, this has inspired him to develop projects that foster community, and create safe spaces for boys who feel like they need someone to talk to.

He was born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1977. Straight after graduating high school in his hometown, Gad set up his first organisation that aimed to empower youth. In 2015, however, he moved to the UK, but the mission continued.

When Gad and his partner moved to Coventry, in the West Midlands, they quickly became aware of issues of violence and anger among young people. “I started asking, ‘God, what can I do?’... I wanted to take a proactive action”, Turuthi remembers. That is when he started working to create Mizizi Boys Mentorship.

Mizizi means “roots” in Swahili, something Gad hopes the initiative can help boys find. The football matches and tournaments are often what initially draws teenagers to join, and can serve as an important insight into what is going on in their lives. “When people are playing, you can tell a boy who is having issues, you can see a boy who is keeping to himself, a boy who is almost all the time angry, or a boy who is [going through] substance abuse, and that's the way we… can speak to them, and if they need further help, we can engage them with other professional help.”

“A mentor works with you in your journey,” Gad said. The founder and CEO highlights the importance of creating a relationship in which there is trust, admiration and good communication. His personal journey informs his work profoundly, recognizing both the impact of positive influences and the pitfalls of absent ones – a mentor, he believes, is akin to a father figure.

“As much as I loved [my father], it’s not the way I want to bring up my children,” he said. “I know there’s no perfect father… and I've seen some of those issues try and crop up in me.” To his own children and through Mizizi, Gad hopes to model a healthy father figure, which he thinks is key for teenagers to have a good mental space and stay motivated in their goals, big or small.

But establishing a mentorship network isn’t so simple. Gad explained, “for me, I also need to be mentored; I need a father figure who is mentoring me… and I also need a peer mentor, so we check on each other.” Through Mizizi, boys can have access to adult mentors in individual and group sessions, and also check in with and mentor each other. Adults are also welcome to join, and Gad knows that inviting fathers can be part of the change he hopes to see.

“We encourage [fathers] to spend time, like on Sundays, or when they come home from work; spend some quality time with their sons and even go to church with their sons,” he explained “It's a process, and the fathers are accepting the reality that they need to be there for their sons, not only for the mothers.”

Beyond sports and mentoring, Mizizi Boys Mentorship offers leadership and skills training, through which young boys can develop professionally and work on their interpersonal and emotional skills.

The group has been able to provide some laptops and host Zoom training sessions. “I invite other professionals, I invite father figures, I invite mentors,” Gad explains. From Gen-Z issues to health-related concerns and career planning, the group discussions are meant to help the boys think about their future.

“And we've seen gradual change, a gradual change is happening,” Gad shared. While perhaps slow, this change Gad hopes to see is multiplied with the Mizizi network. “These boys are growing up fast,” and they can work with each other to navigate the complicated task of becoming an adult.

Just like Gad found his calling, he continues to help others do the same. “I do it because it's a passion for me, it's something which drives me,” he said. “It's something from inside of you… For me, I love to empower people.”

Mizizi Boys Mentorship welcomes teenage boys of all backgrounds to join their sports and training activities. Currently established in Coventry, Gad hopes to expand it to other cities. To find out more about the project, you can go to their Facebook page.

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Number: 1142963 (England and Wales); SC050970 (Scotland)

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