A few years ago, I reflected on my adolescent years and came to realise that I had an unchallenged upbringing. It was with that thought that I decided I should try and help someone that perhaps isn’t having as easy ride as I did.
A few years ago, I reflected on my adolescent years and came to realise that I had an unchallenged upbringing. It was with that thought that I decided I should try and help someone that perhaps isn’t having as easy ride as I did. I heard about Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs and decided that it would be a good way for me to do this.
Fortunately I’ve been matched with a ‘Little’ that is incredibly similar to me. Not to say I’m any of the following, but to describe him I’d have to say that he’s adventurous, athletic, intelligent, determined, compassionate, easy going and witty.
Since being matched, he’s grown about six inches! More importantly however, he’s definitely grown in confidence. His decision-making and communication skills have drastically improved over the last year. In terms of maturity, there is a stark contrast between the day I met him and now. In such a short space of time he’s grown into a considered, kind and conscientious young man.
We’ve shared a lot of great experiences, but it was a recent outing that really showed me just how much my he has grown in the time we’ve been matched.
On a sunny Sunday we ventured to Waterloo for a day of exploration. On our adventure we came across a newly developed playground that included among other things, the biggest slippery slide that I’ve ever seen. It was the kind of slide that kids dream about. A glistening steel tube snaking its way from the sky. While a big slide is the thing of dreams for most kids; my ‘Little’ found it somewhat intimidating given his fear of heights. He tried hard to hide his apprehension about having a go on the slide, but it was obvious that he was a little nervous. With a little bit of coaxing however, we slowly climbed up the tower … and then we slowly climbed back down.
I decided that we couldn’t leave without testing that remarkable piece of playground equipment. So as a 27-year-old man, I gave the kids a run for their money and slid down that slide. While the experience was perhaps a little underwhelming, it gave him a bit of confidence to give it another go. With some embarrassing cheering by his Big Brother (me) on the ground, he climbed back up the tower and this time he didn’t climb back down. He slid down the slide like an absolute champion. A bit like me, he was also little underwhelmed by the sliding experience (too slow), but more importantly he overcame a fear.
To finish the day we grabbed a bite to eat. It’s worth mentioning in the early stages of our mentoring friendship, the process of getting something to eat could be a bit of a challenge given his lack of confidence. Not only did we struggle to make a decision about where to go and what to eat, he also didn’t like ordering for himself. On that day however (and many days subsequent) not only did he eagerly choose where we would have lunch, he efficiently assessed his options and confidently ordered his meal.
While these achievements might seem insignificant to some, it’s things like this that highlight just how much visceral growth my little has gone through. With the utmost sincerity, I can say how incredibly proud I was of him that day and have continued to be every day after.
… I felt lonely, sad, like I really couldn’t be any emptier. I thought Big Brothers Big Sisters wouldn’t make any difference, but it smashed my expectations.
– David (Mentor)
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