Johnny O’Neill endured years of bullying and low self-confidence before ‘Goal 4 Youth’ changed his life forever.
‘Goal 4 Youth’ is owned and managed by local man Dominic Bonner; it’s an organisation that helps young people from all over Derry to become more confident, achieve success and attain positive results.
“I first got in contact with Dominic in May and my life has completely turned around,” said Johnny smiling.
“I used to spend all of my time, alone in my room. I wouldn’t have been able to do this interview if it wasn’t for the help of Dominic but now I am able to address a room with hundreds of people in it.”
Dominic is the Project Manager of the Playtrail, just off the Racecourse Road; he runs ‘Goal 4 Youth’ in his spare time and is completely self-funded.
“I was bullied when I was at school so I know how destructive it can be,” said Dominic.
“I struggled with it for a long time until one day, I decided that enough was enough - I started to compile a list of all the things I wanted to do with my life, I refused to let the bullies win.”
Top of Dominic’s list was to be the managing director of his own company; he achieved this when he only 18 years-old.
“I set-up my own chocolate company and I won several awards for the business. I exported chocolates all over the world.
“When I sold the business I decided that I wanted to help other young people who found themselves in a similar situation to myself - I wanted to give something back.”
Dominic has helped hundreds of young people towards a better quality of life and has assisted them in achieving success; Johnny is but the latest example of how his programme works.
“I am not the greatest person when it comes to getting top grades at school,” admitted Johnny.
“But my dream in life is to be a DJ - I know people might think that that’s not practical and that I should be aspiring to be a doctor or a lawyer but I don’t say any reason why I can’t be a DJ - it’s what I want to do.”
Johnny, from Leafair, first started DJing six months ago but kept his talent to himself and hid away in his bedroom where no-one could hear him.
“My friend heard that I was DJing and asked me to perform at his party. There was about 40 people at the party and I was terrified but after it I decided that I needed to do something so when my friend Tiernan Lennon told me about ‘Goal 4 Youth’ I contacted Dominic straight away.”
Since contacting ‘Goal 4 Youth’, Johnny’s life been completely transformed.
Johnny’s changed from being shy and apologetic to organising music events for young children, performing live DJ sets in front of hundreds of people and he also volunteers at the Playtrail.
“It’s the best decision I ever made. I set short-term goals for myself and when I achieve them I move on to the next one.
“One of my goals was to get a set of Pioneer DJ decks - I saved every penny I got and within a month or so I had the money to buy them.
“I have never been on a plane or left Ireland so that’s my next goal. I found out that there’s a DJ convention in Birmingham in October. When I told Dominic about it, he helped me to book flights, tickets and accommodation - I am all set to go,” he said smiling.
Dominic was keen to stress that the young people he works with take responsibility for their own objectives.
“When other young people hear about the kind of success that Johnny has been enjoying they come to me and ask me to do the same with them. But I tell them that although I have helped young people like Johnny to set out their goals - it is the young person who actually goes out and achieves them.”
“Johnny contacted the organiser of an event in Longford recently and told him what it was he was trying to do - Johnny ended up performing a live DJ set and was the support act for ‘The Wee Amigos’.
“Johnny has also set-up an event for children at the Playtrail where young children come along and listen to Johnny DJing. He’s a completely different young person to the one I met with back in July.”
Earlier this week, ‘Goal 4 Youth’ held an information evening in the city. Many young people attended and afterwards Dominic was inundated with requests from the young people to help them.
Johnny spoke at the event and Dominic said that afterwards he spoke to Johnny’s mother and she couldn’t believe how much her son’s confidence had improved.
“Johnny’s mum said to me that she had to sit with her hands over her mouth for his entire speech because she was smiling from ear to ear.
“She said that she couldn’t get over the change in the boy who used to spend all his spare time in his room - she said she was very proud of him.”
Johnny said that he has surprised himself with how much he has changed and added that none of it would have been possible had it not been for the help and support of Dominic and ‘Goal 4 Youth’.
“I can’t believe how far I have come and I owe a lot of it to my life coach Dominic - I would be lost without him. I am so passionate about music and DJing that I won’t rest until I have achieved my dream - I want to be a DJ when I get older and nothing else.
“People used to give me a hard time when they heard that I wanted to be a D.J. They used to mock me in the street but now that they hear how well I am doing they want to know how they can do the same. I am young and really enthusiastic and Dominic has shown me that in order to be successful you have to be prepared to work through barriers and rejection - but with hard work and determination you will get there.”
For further information on ‘Goal 4 Youth’ or D.J. Johnny O’Neill visit www.goal4youth.com or www.djjohnnyoneill.com or follow Johnny on Twitter @DJJohnnyONeill