Salvador C.’s life was plagued by gangs, drugs and violence. He cut class and struggled relating to his family. He was in trouble, and he knew it.
“I knew I needed help,” he recalled. “I wanted to graduate. I was tired of being in gangs and doing drugs.”
He took the first big step. He joined CYAR’s Steps Ahead program as a freshman at Aurora Central High School. At the launch course in the mountains, away from the turmoil, Salvador met James D. They formed an instant connection, and Salvador gained a mentor. Salvador could feel things changing, because he “knew he (James) wasn’t going to let me fail or go down bad paths.”
James faced a very common challenge facing mentors: creating lines of communication. “He was very shy. He wouldn’t talk. I had to really work with him on opening up and expressing his views and opinions.”
James then took a big step. He took Salvador to the outdoors and exposed him to activities he’d never experienced. They went fishing. They hiked Red Rocks and Dinosaur Ridge. They built trust. Salvador opened up to James, and James opened up to Salvador.
Salvador learned healthy outlets for his stress and anger and began to thrive. He stopped doing drugs and quit his gang involvement. He went to class, and his grades climbed dramatically, achieving A’s and B’s to raise his GPA to well above 3.0.
Salvador is now a junior at Aurora Central. He takes classes at Pickens Technical College and holds down two jobs. He is a leader in the Touchstone program, and takes pride in using his experiences to positively impact others.
“I see some people who really need help. Being a leader gives me a great opportunity to help someone out.”
Salvador is ready for his next big step: he plans on attending college after he graduates next year.