BAM Boston Student Story
Meeting Kids Where They Are—Physically, Socially and Emotionally
Devon* (not pictured) entered 9th grade with little interest in school. At home he had significant financial and care-taking responsibilities, school had become the place where he disengaged. It was not an environment that he worked to succeed in or gain support, it served as an escape.
Becoming A Man® (BAM®) changed that for him. During his sophomore year, Devon was faced with severe health issues that kept him hospitalized and out of school for nearly half the year. Having cultivated a strong relationship with his BAM Counselor, Devon communicated his challenges to the Counselor long before his teachers understood his medical challenges. The Counselor was able to convey the severity of Devon’s situation to the school, ultimately advocating for him and serving as a liaison with the school to support Devon’s enrollment in online classes while he worked to get better.
Despite the online courses, upon his return to school, Devon was overwhelmed by the amount of catching up he’d need to do to stay on track for 10th grade. Already disconnected from school, it would have been easy for him to walk away from school – an event that would have statistically decreased his likelihood of ever graduating; however, his BAM Counselor helped him to formulate a plan for success. Devon began implementing some of the techniques he learned in BAM, including positive thought replacement and deep breathing, to tackle this challenge one day at a time – and with the support of his BAM Counselor and BAM brothers, he climbed his way out of the hole he was in at school. Another transformative occurrence, Devon joined BAM for the annual Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Tour, and a lightbulb went on for him. He realized that graduating from high school and going to college would provide him with the chance to determine his own future. Devon wrote, “The college tours have motivated and inspired me to have Self-Determination and to have goals to reach in the future. They also showed me a different environment of people working together instead of against each other, and that made me want to join them. I can’t wait until it’s time for me to go to college.”
Devon has since woven BAM’s core value of Accountability into his life. He is planning his future and will participate in the NAACP’s Boston Entrepreneur Program this summer (2019), in addition to serving as a lifeguard apprentice at a Boston Centers for Youth and Families (BCYF) public pool. He is also gaining support from school in a way that he never has before. Devon wrote, “BAM introduced me to a brotherhood that I thought I’d never have. All my brothers in BAM are family …I know I got them and they got me, I love each and every one of them even if we don’t always agree or get along. Without them I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
*Name changed for confidentiality.