At 12 Buckets, we are convinced all men, whether or not they have kids of their own, can still be positive role models and make a difference in the lives of children and young adults.
This time last year, we posted this photo:
Accompanying it was a caption which read:
So, we seriously need some good men who make one hour of space in their week to walk alongside some fantastic young lads ... Do you know someone with man-legs who could walk into mentoring? Tag them in and we'll take it from there.
Since then, as well as through more "old-fashioned" methods such as conversations and personal introductions, 12 Buckets has seen an encouraging increase in men applying to mentor.
Kaevis McCaskill signed up after being tagged on Facebook.
Kaevis loves all things creative, but particularly enjoys animation and music (he plays piano, sax and guitar). He was matched with a student who is also passionate about music and the creative arts. They spent the rest of 2016 on an animation project, culminating in a viewing for several classes of students. This young man has recently begun high school with a boost in his confidence, a passion for animation, and a swag of skills to match.
Matt Beavis approached 12 Buckets directly to volunteer after chatting to our founder and CEO, Travis Fitch, at Warwick Stadium. Matt, a physiotherapist, has a passion for keeping active, which includes fishing, boating, football and cricket. After meeting his student, also keen on sport, Matt inquired what activities they might do together.
"Cooking!" the boy replied.
So, instead of a sport-related project, student and mentor enjoyed searching for new recipes to try out together. The year ended with cooking hamburgers for the entire class.
Travis Fitch credits his own success in life to someone looking beyond his teenage faults to see his potential.
"They saw my love of music and taught me to play piano. More importantly, though, they gave their time; they made me feel worthy and worthwhile. They also connected me to other people in the music scene," he says.
"It really does take a village to raise a child. So, at a time when it's rare for kids to have a variety of male role modes in their lives, it's incredibly encouraging to see an influx of guys volunteer to mentor our students.
"They're not going to replace the role of the kid's father," Travis says, "but they have the ability to support other dads and guardians by being an additional role model in their lives, reinforcing the parent's positive values and modelling good behaviour."
According to parenting author, educator and resilience specialist, Maggie Dent, being a dad is not about biology - it's about the effort.
"It's the endeavour and genuine caring that comes from a man who knows he can make a difference, and a man who chooses to make a positive difference in a child's life."
Maggie Dent says it's wonderful to see so many men getting involved as mentors with 12 Buckets.
"Dads and father figures really do matter more than we can imagine, especially when they show our girls and boys that manhood is not just about being a rock and a protector, but it's also about having a softness and open-heartedness in connecting with others.
"12 Buckets is an excellent initiative that shows the power of community for our more challenged and vulnerable children - and a safe circle of community is a key building block to raising resilient kids. This model could work anywhere."
So - do you, or someone you know, have man-legs?