In January 2022 Deon Barrett set out to inspire the younger generation through his own adversity and in doing so created the (True North project). As part of this project Deon set out to attempt to climb the tallest mountain in the world (Mount Everest), one of the most uninhabitable places on earth. Deon is aiming to achieve this by 2025 and has made this meticulous decision in reflection of his life experiences and issues in the current climate that is related to young people’s mental health. As Deon has seen the negative impact to young people have had, including social media which has led to a rise in mental health cases throughout children and young adults. These statistics also mirror the rise in crime within the younger community.
Deon has found that the outdoor experience has evidence showing that it promotes a more positive effect on mental health and overall well-being. This is proven by the fact that even the NHS has begun to prescribe people an outdoor experience, this is called “Green social prescribing”.
While researching it came to Deon's attention that in mountaineering there minimum representation for future generations. Although Deon has limited experience when climbing 8000 meter peaks, he is wanting to make a change. Deon has begun to develop the skills necessary to safely and successfully summit Everest by traveling to remote locations predominantly based in the UK as well as the Alps, Norway and soon to be the Himalayas.
As part of Deon’s attempt, he will become one of the first black Brits to ever achieve this. While this is a challenge on its own, he believes it to only be the beginning.
Deon quotes “To the best of my knowledge, only 10 black climbers have stood at the top of Everest and that only three have been British”. As of July 2022, there have been approximately 11,346 summit ascents by 6,098 people of the great Chomolungma (Mt Everest). Meaning only around 0.01% have been black let alone black British.
The Everest expedition and others like it will only strengthen Deon’s ability to inspire younger generations and give back by engaging with the youth and providing lessons, speeches and youth camp events. He is sure to make an impact. By carrying out expeditions like this Deon knows that it will give credibility to his overall experience for the project.
Who Is he
Deon had a very conflicted childhood due to his identity causing deep depression and anxiety, this led to suicide attempts at a young age. Growing up in the urban outskirts of the South West of London and due to his environment, he found himself descending on the wrong path, leading to being embedded in the local gang culture. Luckily through his mother's passion to travel and bring him along, Deon was able to be exposed to new landscapes.
Because of this he has always enjoyed the outdoors and challenging himself but was unable to indulge in this passion until late. Deon now views this as the ultimate opportunity to pass on this love for the great outdoors to those who have yet to discover it. Deon has begun this journey self-funded as he believes the amazing opportunity to raise awareness and empower young people.
Deon is also a family man, striving to create a healthy environment for his daughter through his love for the outdoors. He believes that it is important to demonstrate that nature can bring a positive balance to the family while empowering her and overall ground her.
Young people initiative
With the young people initiative, Deon is working hard in the community campaigning not only by taking on high risk expeds but by working in the initiative to encourage young people to spend time in the outdoors together in order to “find their True North” in the UK. Working with them in creating that safe space to develop their passions and skills, ultimately connecting once again with mother nature.
Deon would do this by speaking at schools and their students of all ages, talking about how he aims to climb Everest, the kit needed to do that and what he has gone through at an early age to overcome anxiety and depression. He wants to do this by creating opportunities for them; creating safe trips to the mountains with elements of climbing along with other appropriate activities. He believes that this campaign will boost self-esteem by equipping young people with the right tools and attitude to promote their own mental resilience. He has yet to make this happen as funding is not at that stage, but with your help this could be the difference in building on the foundation.
Thank you for supporting.
Follow Deon Barrett @5_twenty_ on Instagram.
True north project.