At the age of five my son Cooper was diagnosed with PDD-NOS, depression and anxiety. One of the specialists referred us to Athletes for Kids and it has been one of the most amazing, positive experiences for our son. He has been matched up with his mentor for about nine months and thinks the world of him.
They see one another regularly depending on school/sports commitments between the two of them and our son always raves about how smart, fun and nice his mentor is. The bond and friendship and that my son has experienced through his mentor has been remarkable.
The athlete mentoring my son is a star athlete and all around great kid, however he is very humble, kind and patient with Cooper always makes him feel like his equal.
The Athletes for Kids organization is amazing in how they continually check in with me to make sure everything is going well. The volunteers running this are second to none and I am eternally grateful for everything they are doing. Lives are being changed and children are being helped one match up at a time. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
At the age of 9, our son was diagnosed with ADHD and depression. I heard about AFK and immediately enrolled, hoping for a positive experience to change the direction our son was heading into. Within a short time, our boy was matched with a fine young man, a junior at EHS, who had an immediate, positive impact. The relationship between my son and his mentor is so special to all of us. Because my son and his mentor share a passion for their mutual sport, our child is motivated to play and improve his skills, and his mentor teaches him tricks and techniques that help him advance with his team. His confidence is high now, almost two years later, and his depression has lifted. He and his mentor have so much fun together and they both look forward to their weekly visits. We are so grateful to AFK for giving us the opportunity to have a wonderful mentor our son looks up to. This fine person has now graduated and is moving on to college, but he continues to be involved in our child's life and I believe they will be life-long friends. The tremendous impact he has had on our son is impossible to measure.
We know our son wouldn't be who he is today without the time, care and attention he received from his AFK athlete.
In 2006 our son was in 5th grade and was paired with a mentor who was entering his senior year at IHS. Over the course of the year the two built an amazing friendship. Our son's mentor was with our son each week during the school for 1-2 hours, and 4-5 hours weekly during holidays, breaks and summer vacation. Even after our mentor's high school graduation, he continued his relationship and weekly times with our son until the mentor went off to college.
What was quite surprising about this mentor was that he was very kind, humble, dedicated, committed and loyal in his mentoring approach, friendship with our son and participation with Athletes for Kids. And this young man also happened to be captain of the football team, state wrestler and honors student. He was very well liked by his classmates and teachers, and even local organizations like Rotary recognized him for his outstanding achievements. Yet he never drew attention to himself and wanted to showcase our son's interests and ways to build on their friendship.
Even after the mentor went to college, he and our son kept in touch via phone and email, and direct visits when the mentor came home to visit his own family. Our son even made trips to his mentor's college to see him play football or just spend time with him. The mentor has since graduated from college and now lives and works in Boston. Our son has been out to Boston to visit him, and whenever the mentor is in Seattle they get together for direct visits. They frequently talk via phone, email, texting and Facebook. The mentor is like a big brother to our son and they have a very strong relationship.
Our son is now a senior at IHS this year and is preparing a video for his Eagle Scout Project on the importance of mentoring and the AFK program. He wants others to know how important mentoring is, especially for kids with challenges, and use the video as his "Pay it Forward" opportunity. Our son has greatly benefited from this program and especially with his ongoing relationship with his mentor that started 7 years ago.
Thanks to all the AFK mentors, supports and staff! This is a remarkable program and we feel very lucky to have been recipients.
The Lawrence family (Issaquah, WA)
Six years ago, at the age of 11, my son was matched with his first Athlete For Kids mentor. The relationship that developed between him and the star quarterback of the football team was wonderful and it is one that continues today. Several weeks ago my son had the opportunity to attend his former mentor's college football game and have photos taken on the field at the end of the game. My son's second mentor through Athletes For Kids is another wonderful young man who has become like a part of the family. He is away at college this year but he traveled with us this summer and he and my son keep in touch by skype and text and we are looking forward to seeing him soon when he comes home for the holidays. The difference that Athletes for Kids and these two young men have made in the life of my son has been incredible. What a gift that he has these two people in his life.
My son is an AFK buddy, and we couldn't be more pleased with the relationship between our son and his AFK mentor. It has truly been life-changing for us. As a special needs child with autism, it is difficult for my son to make friends. As such, he doesn't get many invitations to have play dates with neighbor or school children. This is where an AFK mentor makes a world of difference. My son's mentor comes over once a week and plays with my son for at least an hour, doing whatever it is my son wants to do. Some of their outings have been to swimming, the park, and now that the cooler weather is here, there are a lot of weekends spent making movies using the various toys my son has. My son's self-esteem has increased dramatically since being matched with an AFK mentor. His confidence has grown in ways we as his parents simply cannot help him do. Having someone closer to his age whom he respects and enjoys spending time with has really broadened his horizons. And his mentor - there aren't enough good things I could say about him! He's here every week, despite all of his commitments with football and school, and he'll do pretty much anything for my son. He's such a great sport :) I'm absolutely thrilled that we have this opportunity available to us!
My daughter was matched with a mentor from Athletes For Kids 3 years ago and continues in the program. Her mentor has helped her build confidence in her social skills that she now uses in building friendships with others. Her mentor is an important part of my daughter's journey to growing into an independent young woman. Their friendship is one of a kind!