One of the first questions I asked when I began working with BAM-Sports was â€śwhy do the mentors do it?â€ť 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, â€śthe 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€ť
Mentors are able to bring their own life stories to their work. Amundsen mentor Chris says his â€śbig 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€ť 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.