Xander first joined JAG at the suggestion of a friend, who thought it might be a good fit for him. A more quiet student, Xander struggled to come out of his shell. For him, JAG was a way not only to connect with his friends, but to also feel more comfortable at school.
“It makes me feel more at home when I'm at school. It makes you feel more involved with everything, and it gives you a chance to do something good.”
One massive goal of JAG is to help all participants improve in any areas that they might struggle with. For Xander, reading was something that he did not feel that he had much strength in. Using Trauma-Informed Care, JAG has a strong goal of making sure that each student can succeed with their personal goals—including academic ones. Within JAG, Xander was able to improve his reading, gaining more confidence and skill as time went on.
“I used to not be able to read very well, and I think I could read a lot better now. It gave me a confidence boost.”
While some students are already outgoing and involved, others take a bit more time to come out of their shell. It’s a coordinator's task to encourage their participants to break through their individual barriers by providing trauma-informed care and working with them to reach their goals.
“I've grown exponentially. I used to not be able to come forward and talk about myself. I think they helped me open up a little bit more, and it has made me feel more like me.”
JAG’s mission is to help participants not only improve, but set goals and decide what they want for their future. This is accomplished through a variety of ways. One is allowing students to explore their interests and encouraging their passions. Encouraging JAG students to chase their interests, helps set them on a path to success. Xander is a perfect example of the impact that encouragement can have on a student’s hopes for the future.
“I like to work on cars. So it's made me want to work on them longer because I only work for a little bit of time. And JAG made me feel more comfortable in the workspace.”
High school is just around the corner for Xander, and he knows he can go into it with more confidence. He has every intention of joining JAG in high school, and he’s certainly broken out of his shell. He states that along with taking auto tech classes, he’s also hoping to get into sports. When asked what advice he’d offer JAG students, he was happy to encourage them to branch out and talk to those in the program.
“Don't be afraid to talk to your counselors or talk to fellow JAG students and just be more open…. JAG helped me work harder and move towards my goals a little bit more. It gave me motivation.”
To help other participants find their calling and set their future goals, sign up to be a JAG Volunteer today! We are always looking for volunteers to visit classrooms, hold presentations, and work with our participants to grow and learn more about themselves.