Becoming a role model can have a transformative impact on young people’s lives. As Ole, 15, reflects on his Teens and Toddlers experience, he shares how our unique mentoring opportunity helped him develop empathy and learn the invaluable lesson of stepping into someone else's shoes.

Ole was referred to our Teens and Toddlers programme which helps young people improve their wellbeing and school engagement to succeed at school and in life, through the experience of mentoring nursery children.

“I think I was referred to the programme because of behavioural issues because if you see everyone that’s in the group, none of them would be the best behaved in class. I was getting into a lot of trouble and that. My attendance wasn’t too great, been late a few times too,” says Ole.

Becoming a positive role model to Flynn - the toddler Ole was paired with - helped Ole improve his own behaviour.

“Starting off he was in his shell. He wasn’t speaking too much. I think he wasn’t used to someone new. As the weeks progressed, I think he could see that I was patient with him and I was trying to give him time. I have seen a lot of improvement with the relationship I have built with him and he’s opened up a lot more.”

“There was one time when he was bouncing on the trampoline and I would sing songs to him. When he was running off, he used to turn around and repeat the song to himself. Just seeing him smile after doing summat with him was really rewarding.”

Working with a toddler who has additional learning needs encouraged Ole to reflect on his experiences of caring for his own brother.

“My brother himself also has special needs and obviously I have had to help him out all his life. Now I know what it’s like so I can understand what he’s going through. In certain situations, I’ve learnt to not lose my temper and answer back and that. It’s just about respect now and I think being on this programme has released a lot of respect because I can see what other people go through and live through.”

Ole and his classmates celebrated their achievements at our Graduation Ceremony earlier this year. His Vice Principal, Mr Pemberton, said: “We’ve been delighted with the student's participation and the quality of their workbooks and we were delighted to celebrate their achievements at the graduation event. The students involved have developed excellent relationships with their nursery child and have been wonderful role models to them.”

“Going to the nursery, I became more mature and basically released someone new. My behaviour has gotten better recently. I mean I don’t get as many detentions anymore really. The Teens & Toddlers programme has brought out a different side to me. I’m calmer and I have a lot more patience. Walking down the corridor whenever I see anyone I’m like ‘you alright?’ and greet them to see if they’re alright.”

“I think the programme should be an open option to anyone. It just brings out a different side in you like being in someone else’s shoes and knowing what they are going through. You just put on your best face and try and be good for them really.”

Find out more about the Teens and Toddlers programme.