When I discovered Athletes for Kids during my junior year I immediately applied. My younger cousin was on the spectrum, and I knew the program would give me the opportunity to build the amazing friendship I had built with him, with someone new. After going through the interview process I was matched with my buddy, an eight year old boy on the spectrum. Before I knew it the time we spent together became the highlight of the week with both of us looking forward to spending 2-3 hours on a Sunday, building Legos, playing board games and doing trivia. It was even more fun than I had expected , and I fell in love with the mentorship friendship process. I say mentorship-friendship because just like an older cousin or sibling you are as much a friend as you are a mentor. You are in a position of authority and there is a responsibility that comes with that, but if you asked my buddy who I was he would call me his friend. I know I call him mine. It isn’t just me, all around me I see the amazing relationships in other mentors have with their buddies. We all started out for different reasons, but we have stayed for one reason: the relationships we have built with our buddies. My buddy is a friend I will remember forever, and I will always be grateful that Athletes for Kids game the opportunity to be his mentor-friend.
Meeting Gabe is the highlight of the week for our son! It is wonderful to watch him plan activities and pick games and projects to work on with Gabe. Friendship with Gabe has not only helped our son develop self-confidence and increased his self-esteem but has also helped our son develop an interest in board games which has made him more open to learning, exploring new activities, following instructions, and staying focused! He has started actively participating in playing games and sports with peers at school! Our son wrote a short story at school about how he spent his winter break He wrote that spending more time with his friend Gabe was the best part of winter break! Gabe is a great role model for our son! He is always patient, kind and responsible which inspires our son to be the same. We are so thankful to Gabe as well as this wonderful program. We look forward to watching our son continue to develop this wonderful bond with his mentor!