Joel & Will

A Mentoring Story*

When Joel was just a young kid, his older brother was killed after being violently gunned down near their family home. Afterwards, Joel and the rest of his family were living in fear for their own lives. Joel was afraid to leave the house, even to go to school, and would find any excuse to stay home. When Joel did go to school, he isolated himself and was reluctant to interact with his peers or participate in any classroom activities.

One of Joel’s teachers referred him to our School-Based Mentoring program and Joel was soon matched with Will, a positive, caring, and confident mentor from Canadian Western Bank (CWB). You could see positive changes in Joel almost right from the beginning of the match. His attendance record at school was still spotty, but if you looked closely, you’d see that he never skipped a day when he had planned visits with his mentor. Gradually, as Will helped Joel to overcome his fears and grow his confidence, his attendance at school improved and he would rarely miss any days. His teacher often commented on how, since being matched with Will, Joel was more outgoing, speaking to his classmates and teachers and doing better at school.

One day, Joel had to get some dental work done and the dentist said he should plan to take the day off from school to recover. However, this was a mentoring day and Joel was adamant that he did not want to miss his scheduled time with Will. He made his mother take him to school and wait until his visit with Will was over, and then she took him home.

At the end of the school year, Joel was asked what he felt he learned from Will, to which he replied, “He taught me that no matter how hard things get, never give up.”

*Names have been changed to protect identities

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Riley & Piper

A Mentoring Story*

At 16 years old, Riley was self-aware enough to know she needed a mentor in her life. She had witnessed domestic violence and abuse at home and, as a result, she struggled with her mental health and was self-harming. It took a while to find the perfect mentor but finally, we matched her with Piper.

Through Piper, Riley was connected to mental health supports and learned healthy coping strategies. She’s now starting to think about university and deciding what kind of career she would like. And recently, Riley was able to share something very personal with Piper: that she was attracted to women. Piper’s personal experience allowed her to be empathetic at a time when Riley needed her most. That’s why Riley describes Piper as ‘a real big sister.’

There are many young people like Riley in our community who need a little extra support all the way up to the age of 24. In Riley’s case, past trauma made it hard for her to build all the social skills and resilience that she needs to reach her full potential. She was vulnerable and hurting, and unable to talk honestly about her mental health and her sexuality. What she needed was a caring adult who celebrated her for who she was, and who understood the impact of her childhood.

When we train a mentor, we teach them exactly how to build resilience, social skills and confidence in their Little. Mentors learn how a young person’s brain develops, and how the presence of caring adults ensures a bright future for youth. Piper has supported Riley by showing her that she matters, challenging her to grow and be accountable for her actions, respecting her, and broadening her horizons. In Piper, Riley has an advocate, a friend, a source of advice, and someone who she can trust with her secrets and her successes.

*Names have been changed to protect identities

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