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Kevin Donnelly
Once I got it out, it felt great


Kevin Donnelly, who’s 21, grew up in a happy home in Galliagh, where he loved dancing, wrestling and playing on his computer.

School, however, was occasionally very difficult for him – particularly the second tier, where he was badly bullied.

“I am a slow learner. I was in the same school my whole life, Belmont. My learning disability never worried me much, but I am sometimes stuck for words. It takes me ages to think. I got on well in my first primary school. The teachers were all sound on. My favourite teacher was Miss Vaughn, She taught me since I was in nappies. I found English very hard I even struggled with easy English. Maths was hard too. 

“When I went into Troy [second tier], I got the worst bullying you could ever get - I got tortured. It was awful to deal with. I was scared to tell my teacher in case they came back and beat me up. The girls were the worst; some of the ones could be very bitchy. I felt like I had heartburn, I was in that much pain. I was often in the bathroom in tears.

“When I was in second year they made me so mad I started to bully them back. I was keeping it in so long, I lost the head with my parents as well. And I got on to the teachers too. The bullies wouldn't go near me after I lost the head. Once I got it out, it felt great.”

Music was a great release for Kevin. He joined a school band as drummer and never looked back.

“Mr Hasson was the best teacher I had. I loved him. He told jokes and was funny. He treated me with respect, and that's why I liked him the best. There was this competition where you chose your best teachers so you can get them next year. I didn't need to look, I just pointed at Mr Hasson.

“I was in a wee band in music. I did the drums for two years. One time I was dressed like one of the soldiers with the big hats, the ones that stand there and can't move. I had to move because I was on the drums. They called me ‘little drummer boy’ because I was marching like I was a real soldier.

“The year after I had a full set of drums, and I played ‘Teenage Kicks’ and ‘We Will Rock You’. I loved that song, hitting the drums very hard; that was my favourite. When I was finished, people stood up roaring and I just had my sticks in an ‘X’.”

After Belmont, Kevin went to the Tech (North West Institute) for maths, English and ICT. He also took classes in personal finance and joined Destined.

It was a turning point for him. He had been working with his father, a joiner, since secondary school but got the confidence to strike out on his own.  

“Now, I have got a job working in St Columb’s College as a cleaner and I am going to be a canteen assistant as well. In Destined and the Tech's transition program, I was treated very well. And they treat me well at my job as well.”

Kevin would now like to go onto work in the caring sector – as a support worker – and help other vulnerable young people, through their own problems.

At Destined, he enjoys many of the activities, including darts, snooker and day trips. Though he won’t go fishing, as he has a fear of water.

“I'm not going out with anyone. I am trying to change myself first. I feel happy but not ‘happy’ happy. Just normal. If I did go out with someone, I might feel better but I am not in any rush. If it happens it happens.”