After learning about a teenager that needed a positive role model, a friend introduced Dapo Fadeyi to the YMCA of Metro Denver’s Reach and Rise program, which provides mentors to youth ages six to 17. After being accepted into the Y’s mentor program, Fadeyi, 35 was matched with Alex, 13 and the two soon found themselves spending an hour a week together.
Their activities range from grabbing dinner together to attending events to hanging out. The underlying theme is the same for their time together – it’s one-on-one and focused on building a positive relationship. The aim of YMCA’s Reach & Rise program is to help the mentee build self-esteem, increase decision-making abilities and have a positive experience. Although Fadeyi has only been mentoring Alex for a couple of months, he can tell it is making a difference.
“Alex is more enthusiastic and seems to look forward to spending time with me,” says Fadeyi. “Being his mentor puts things into perspective. I’ve realized I can’t teach him things if I’m not doing the right thing.”
As a first time mentor, Fadeyi is still discovering the best ways to interact with Alex, and has learned some lessons himself. His advice for other mentors is simple - change doesn’t happen over night. “Many youth are with bad influences daily and that’s why it’s important to be a positive influence in their life. So far, this has been a great experience and am excited to be matched with Alex and hopes he feels the same,” he said.
“Many youth need a dependable, positive role model,” YMCA of Metro Denver Reach & Rise Program Coordinator Jessica Brown said. “We are always looking for more mentors like Dapo to join our mentoring program. The experience is truly life changing for our mentors and mentees.”