One of the first questions I asked when I began working with BAM-Sports was âwhy do the mentors do it?â While giving a year of service is certainly an admirable thing to do on its own, I knew that there was something deeper within the BAM-Sports mentors compelling them to serve – to give their time and sacrifice personal opportunities in service to Chicago communities hit hard by poverty, violence and other crimes.
Many of our BAM-Sports mentors relate to the struggles of the youth they work with; many even come from similar communities. They enjoy getting to know the students and, despite individual hardships and circumstances, seeing the students still bring energy and a love of life to school each day. This group of BAM-Sports mentors is a passionate bunch of men who are striving to build a better future for the next generation. As Bronzeville High School mentor Jovon puts it, âthe fact is I enjoy building leaders. I want to inspire them to achieve all their goals. I strongly believe that education is the key to success, and I want them to understand that and apply it in their lives as well.â
Mentors are able to bring their own life stories to their work. Amundsen mentor Chris says his âbig motivation is offering teenagers a friendly and understanding ear. This was something I could’ve used as a teenager myself, so playing that role in other teenagers’ lives is the next best thing.â One of the most important parts of the BAM-Sports mentor position is being able to engage students, form a connection and support the students in building resilience skills to persevere through challenges they may face. BAM-Sports mentors use personal experience, sports and other activities as tools to help the students set goals and make progress in defining their own futures everyday.