REAL Connection Boys
The mentors of our programs are men from the local community, the middle school, and/or the high school. They may be a coach, a teacher, a counselor, a retiree, a police officer, or a businessman. Mentors, as well students, come from all walks of life to share their perspectives and to learn from each other.
Meetings take place at the end of the school day. Generally, meetings are held at the school. On occasion, there are field trips. In those instances, transportation is provided. Special meetings in the past included workouts at Paladin Martial Arts, hiking Wachusett Mountain, and visiting the American Heritage Museum. Meetings normally last two hours, from 2:30-4:30.
Once a meeting begins, the boys and mentors alike will participate in some type of physical, recreational activity. This provides the young men a chance to blow off steam and excess energy pent up after the school day. We find these activities serve as an excellent opportunity to practice teamwork and respect for the opponent and the rules of the game. Through this time of playing, competing, and laughing together, the students and mentors have the opportunity to bond and create trust with each another.
Trust is crucial to the success of the program. When there is trust, we are more open to share. Trust, between mentors and boys, creates that environment of comfort and safety.
The students and mentors then participate in the discussion portion of the meeting. This component is the meat and bones of the REAL Mentors Program. This part of the program differs from meeting to meeting. Discussions can take place with everyone involved, in a small group setting, or even one on one. Discussions topics are sometimes prompted by mentors, and other times are led by the students. Generally, these topics are not set in stone, and the conversation will change and flow naturally to allow the boys to speak their mind. Listening without judgment. This is the key element we stress in all discussions.
With every meeting our goal is to ensure we provide a safe place where each boy can open up and feel heard, validated, and supported.
He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”
The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”
The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”