There’s little else that gets me ‘buzzing’ and makes me feel a deep sense of pride in the same way that watching my business grow does. The other day I read a blog on our A Mind Apart page, by a year ten work experience student, that made me remember why I do what I do.
The work experience student just happened to be with us on a week when I wasn’t around in the office much, so I didn’t get to see much of her or speak to her. This is one of the few things I hate about growing the business: having to sacrifice making relationships with the young people the organisation comes into contact with. I regularly find myself missing our students or the young people that I personally mentor and coach when I’m away for a week or two. After all, young people are why I do what I do and why I set up A Mind Apart.
Reading the blog about the girls week and what she had been doing with us and how she felt about it, made me feel a pride in my ‘baby’ that I can only imagine a parent feels for a real baby. There wasn’t anything unusual in the blog, in the sense that she wrote about similar things to our other work experience students in the past. She shared her days, what she did, what classes she went to, admin work that she did, and that there was so much more to drama and theatre than she had thought like drama therapy and different ways of teaching. The part that gave me the ‘fuzzy’ feeling inside was the paragraph that she finished with:
“I can honestly say that I have loved my time at Mind Apart and I wish my stay could have been longer. But I am so glad I came here instead of a boring office job at a firm because I have actually been able to participate in activities and learn new skills, like improvisation. I think I’ve most enjoyed joining in and assisting in lessons and participating in the drama. The staff was also really friendly and made me feel welcome. Thank you A Mind Apart for such a brilliant experience.”
It seems simple. But after spending the last few months working hard to step away from the day to day delivery of A Mind Apart, and as I begin to focus on expansion and our international work it made me realise how valuable my team are to me. It reminded me how lucky I am to have such an amazing team that are so devoted to our young people and work so hard to make sure they get the best experiences. A team that go out of their way for complex and needy young people in a way that no one else ever has for them. A team that understand and demonstrate unconditional love. A team that do what they do because they believe in it and believe that our young people deserve better and that all our children and young people deserve the best!…A team that I am incredibly proud of!
In the same way that a capitalist feels the buzz when they make thousands or millions from their work, I feel the buzz seeing the social impact A Mind Apart has in the world. For the capital it’s the bigger the profit margin, the bigger the buzz; for me it’s the more a life is changed, the more I feel the buzz. I look at what the organisation I founded does and how it runs without me needing to be present everyday. I see what I have built, the ethos I have implemented, the staff I have mentored who now mentor staff and volunteers below them. I look at the young people whose lives are being changed because I made it clear that the only way we work is through unconditional love, and I am honoured to see my team making sacrifices daily for the children and young people. And indirectly making sacrifices for me…
…Seven years ago, I was a 21 year old with a dream that many people scoffed at. I lost friends over it. People told me I was naive and reckless. Well, if this is where naive and reckless get you, then I’m happy to be those two things. Don’t be fooled, it hasn’t been an easy seven years, I’ve made personal and professional sacrifices along the way. I’ve had weeks when I’ve wondered if I’d be able to buy food. I’ve fought through a broken economy (that wasn’t easy for anyone running an organisation or business). I’ve stood my ground and stood in so many young people’s corner, supporting them, that I’ve lost count. What an incredible feeling, to have staff that have stood with me through it all, a team that is devoted to the cause and who I can trust to look after my baby and keep it safe, while making sure it’s being nurtured to grow, knowing it’s only the beginning and no where near the end.
I persevered even when my own family thought I was mad, and as A Mind Apart turns seven years old on 3rd April 2015, I feel like my baby has grown it’s wings. It’s able to stand alone, even walk, maybe run and definitely fly. Is this what a parent feels like when they see their child taking their first steps, Going to school for the first time, packing the car for university? A fear of ‘what if’s’ but a powerful pride that overcomes it all and makes you proud to be the one that created what’s in front of you and excited for what is to come.