I worked in a place where youth were incarcerated for various crimes, some very serious. Most of the young people who came into the facility had this tough exterior which they had formed to protect themselves from various forms of abuse. Most had no direction in life let alone on a daily basis. Many of these kids come from places where promises have been broken and life has dealt them a rough hand. I remember one day meeting a couple of young males who were new to the facility, I went over and said “What sport do you guys enjoy playing?” They said ‘b-ball.’ I made a promise to them that I’d come play it with them at 7am the next day. When I turned up at 7am they were surprised, “I thought you were shi**ing bro.” Eventually, I saw another side of these young men who were hurting, lost and pretty much unsure of who they were. I know it’s a cliché’ but it’s true, most young people who end up inside are looking for love and to belong somewhere.
I think it’s important to build positive relationship and trust before you try and fix the problems our young people are going through. It goes a long way to getting young people to reciprocate with respect. My aim is to see young people achieve socially and educationally through pathways that myself, and many others will provide now and in the future.