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Ahead of the Game runs in schools and community centres all across the GTA. Recently, we received our stats from one of the sites we run the program at. For a boys' group that we run, 60 young men come out at lunch to be mentored. 90% of those young men got all of their high school credits that year. On days when we ran the program in the classroom, 94% attended their classes, and on days when we didn’t have the group, 89% of students attended. Now, the program runs approximately 12 weeks, with each session at only 1 hour per week. That’s the difference just one hour can make.

I also think about the difference that just one word can make. There's a passage in the Bible that says, "faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” Think about this: faith, believe, perception, action, and behaviour come by hearing a word.

If I told you not to go to a certain area that has a high crime rate and is dangerous, what are you going to do? Most would likely listen. Even if you happened to get close to this area, you’d get little bit afraid.


Because by my words, I've put it in your mind that this is an unsafe area, and that you should be wary.

What if I told you that you needed to be careful about someone in your life who was conniving or deceptive? Someone who made you think one thing to gain your friendship and trust, then would stab you in the back or rob you? What would your perception of them be? How would you feel?

You see, the words we allow into our minds are what will mould our faith, perception and ultimately our behaviour if we're not careful. If I can change your perception about a person, situation or thing just by the words that come out of my mouth, imagine how influential my words would be if I focused them negatively on you. What if I told you you were worthless, or that you could not do something? What if I told you that you should not even try?

It’s no wonder why so many people are afraid to be vulnerable. The words of others not only have the potential to hurt us, but they can govern our perception of others. If only we balanced that out and shone a little bit of light, maybe we could shift our mindsets. Maybe we could remember how great we are. Maybe we could believe in ourselves and quiet that negative voice.

We’ve been very successful in doing this with young people in our program. We’ve built kids’ confidence just by spending an hour with them because now they know that there’s someone who cares. Someone who will provide them with support, resources and feedback. Now, they’re a little less afraid to take a risk and be committed. That’s what we do.

So I want to give you a word. I want to shift your mind. I want to encourage you and let you know that there is greatness inside of you. It doesn’t matter what anybody else says. As you finish the week, make sure you have a defence mechanism that shields you from the negative words that you might hear. From the things that you allow in. Because it will shape your perception. It will shape your belief system. It will shake your behaviour and your destiny.



- JH


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