When Bradley was in grade 3, his parents were getting divorced. It was an experience that really upended his life. To help him deal with the situation, his parents brought in a mentor for Bradley to talk to. The experience lasted for only a couple of months, but the impact of that connection has stuck with Bradley to this day.
“Some stranger was taking the time out of his day and spending time with me, talking to me, and trying to engage with me – I really liked that,” said Bradley. “Although it was a short time period, it still made an impact on my life.”
A student at York University and a servant with the Canadian Army, Bradley knew he wanted to give back to his community. He also wanted to improve his social skills, like empathy and communication, so that he could eventually apply to become a police officer.
Bradley studied criminology and learned about mentoring programs and how they can help divert kids away from the criminal justice system. He learned how it worked from textbooks, but he wanted to see it in action, especially after having his own mentoring experience when he was young.
“In the back of my mind I have always wanted to give back to a mentorship program, because of knowing how it felt in the past when someone gave back to me,” says Bradley.
Why He Chose The Peer Project
After looking at other mentoring programs, Bradley joined The Peer Project in April, 2012. He chose the Peer Project because of their unique approach to mentoring that focuses on peer-to-peer relationships, and matching youth based on their interests and location.
“I was really lucky, because my mentee and I really clicked. We really got to know each other and really got along right from the get-go,” says Bradley.
Bradley and his mentee are both into computers and cars, and they immediately hit it off. Bradley learned that his mentee wanted to get better grades school, and to become more physically fit.
Bradley himself was once a skinny 120-pound kid, with average grades. But he transformed himself into a mentally and physically focused man, capable of handling military training and university learning. And so Bradley went to work training and helping his mentee.
“I know how much your fitness can impact your self-confidence. And sometimes not having self-confidence makes you quieter – so I didn’t want my mentee going through what I did when I went to high school,” says Bradley.
In the first year, they would see each other four hours a week, hitting the gym together and then the books. In their first year together, his mentee saw his grades increase by 10%, and watched his weight drop by 10 to 20 pounds.
“He worked really hard,” says Bradley.
Finding A Balance
Bradley found balancing his interests as a mentor and the interests of his mentee’s parents at times difficult because his mentee’s parents were getting a divorce. They wanted information on how their child was handling the break-up. Bradley knew if he was seen as an agent for his mentee’s parents, then there would be no trust with his mentee.
“I needed my mentee to be comfortable to talk to me and tell me things,” says Bradley. “From the get-go, I was balancing those interests.”
Overall, the experience has been really rewarding for Bradley to see his mentee grow and development into a university-bound young man.
“It makes me happy that someone who wasn’t doing so well is doing so much better, simply from interacting with me,” says Bradley.
Bradley works currently as a special constable at a York court office, but has recently submitted his application to become a police officer. Next year his mentee is off to university. Bradley says they will definitely stay in touch.