(Sean Thomas - mentor, Big Brothers, Big Sisters)
What does it mean to be strong? What is it that makes a man strong?
I often get told “ooh, big muscles,” “people are scared of you,” or, “people do what you tell them.”
And I listen then I give them a different view, what I tell them is “No. What strength is, is not when people fear you, but when they feel safe around you. So to be strong boys, people must feel safe around you.”
My name is Sean Thomas, I’m a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters and have been for fifteen years.
I often get asked “why do you do this as a mentor?”, and people expect to be told because you’re super altruistic or you really want to do the right thing. The truth is I really enjoy it and I think, actually everyone would enjoy it.
Without a doubt we’d benefit from having more male mentors, without a doubt the longest list is for young boys to have a male mentor.
When I reflect on my own youth there were lots of risks there and perhaps an opportunity for things to go wrong and I don’t think there’s any doubt for me that having an adult relationship outside the family helped a lot.
Even with the first boy, even though it’s been fifteen years now, we have a very close on-going relationship, we see each other most weeks and we keep very close, it’s great, he’s just like another member of the family now.
So the current boy I’m mentoring is JJ, he’s ten years old now we’ve been matched for around two years. He’s really fitted into the family unit, he loves spending time, not only with me but with my wife and my daughters. He comes around for all the rugby evenings he’s an absolute fixture in the family.
The boy’s that I’ve mentored have turned out to love cooking, gardening, fishing, helping around the house, going kicking a ball, walking the dog or just spending time together.
The only way forward to build a happier healthier community is to invest in youth and their families there’s simply no way around it.
Children can’t raise themselves and they can’t raise each other. Particularly for youth at risk, I think it’s very important, that they get good strong social connections, wherever they need them to help them navigate life and get going.