Jesse Sa­hota: Bring­ing the “At Risk” back

Asian Journal - - British Columbia - Ray Hud­son

Last week we in­tro­duced Jesse Sa­hota who works to help young peo­ple who are in jeop­ardy of slip­ping into a neg­a­tive and danger­ous life­style. He’s very good at what he does be­cause he’s been there and back. He’s in­tense and he’s pas­sion­ate about what he does with the team at the Sur­rey School Dis­trict, in the Wrap­around (Wrap for short) Pro­gram. In this sec­ond re­port, he talks about how he does it, and how he han­dles the ex­cep­tional pres­sures of the mission he has taken on. Jesse Sa­hota: Im­me­di­ately upon grad­u­a­tion I started vol­un­teer­ing with the Wrap pro­gram and the sis­ter pro­grams, be­cause Rob (Rai) has al­ways been a men­tor and I al­ways go to him for ad­vice and it was him that told me that he wanted me to help out with the pro­grams, to give back to the pro­grams that helped me out. I said, ‘no prob­lem’. Asian Jour­nal: When you started with the pro­gram, what were you do­ing? Jesse Sa­hota: I was in a pro­gram called “Yo­bro” (Yo­bro Youth Ini­tia­tive), so I would teach a lot of the kids wrestling, self de­fense, dis­ci­pline and stuff like that, or I’d share my story some­times, be­cause it can be re­ally re­as­sur­ing for them to know that at one point I was in their spot ex­actly, maybe even worse. I think that when some of the kids hear that, it gives them a lit­tle bit of hope. Asian Jour­nal: How do you bring that sort of thing out with the kids? Jesse Sa­hota: The cool thing is that with my ath­let­ics I have a cer­tain level of pop­u­lar­ity in my Indo-Canadian com­mu­nity, so a lot of the kids and even the par­ents come out. I play Kabaddi, so a lot of the kids al­ready know me, so when I come to some of th­ese pro­grams they come over and say hi, and make con­ver­sa­tion. In that sense it’s al­ways easy for me to connect with the kids. Asian Jour­nal: It seems to be the case that if you can keep them busy phys­i­cally, they don’t have time to get into trou­ble. Jesse Sa­hota: Yes. The pro­gram I run right now, which has been very suc­cess­ful, is with the se­ri­ous in­ci­dent stu­dents. I pick them up at 8:30 in the morn­ing, take them for a two hour work­out, then they eat a healthy lunch, then they do two hours of Sur­rey Connect on­line school­ing and by the time I drop them off they’ll be asleep in the car. Asian Jour­nal: What’s your ex­pe­ri­ence with kids stick­ing to the pro­gram? Jesse Sa­hota: I think one of the most dis­heart­en­ing things is when I’ve seen the par­ents af­ter they see their son or daugh­ter fall off the rails once they’ve com­mit­ted to a bet­ter life. It’s a neg­a­tive part of my job see­ing kids that I work with, and with whom I’m emo­tion­ally at­tached, fall off the pro­gram. But hav­ing said that, it could also be an­other wake up call that brings them even closer to me. There was an in­di­vid­ual that we’d de­voted a lot of time and re­sources to, who had a per­sonal cri­sis and fell off the pro­gram. He started go­ing back in to the drug trade, not show­ing up to classes. He got back deep into the game, and I had to pull out for per­sonal safety and school pro­to­col. You can’t meet them half way if no one is go­ing to show up right? But my phone be­gan ring­ing not too long af­ter with the mes­sage, “Hey I’m sorry I messed up and I want to work with you guys.” He’d messed up a cou­ple of times and we had to let him go. A month later he re­al­ized we were out there to help him and he’d let it go, so he’s kick­ing him­self right now. He’s a very stub­born per­son and not the one to let his guard down like that, so see­ing that mes­sage from him is re­ally some­thing. Asian Jour­nal: How do you deal with the emo­tional bag­gage that’s been down­loaded on you? Jesse Sa­hota: I nap a lot and I’ve been for­tu­nate that through my ath­letic ca­reer I get to travel a lot, so al­most ev­ery week­end I’m gone. Al­ready I’ve had about twelve or thir­teen trips, so that al­ways seems to be a re­lease, and if I’ve got some­thing both­er­ing me I can go to my main man, Rob Rai. There are also a cou­ple of co-work­ers that I’ve be­come re­ally good friends with, and some­times we throw ideas back and forth. You can tell we’re pas­sion­ate about our jobs when you see us at eight or nine o’clock at night in a Bos­ton Pizza and all we’re talk­ing about are kids. Asian Jour­nal: Do we need more peo­ple like you? Jesse Sa­hota: I was dis­cussing some ideas with Rob and I asked why Ab­bots­ford doesn’t have a pro­gram, or Burn­aby or Van­cou­ver? He said there was only one of him and that he could only run one pro­gram right now. Then I said “we need more Rob Rai’s, start build­ing more Rob Rai’s.” His re­ply was “That’s what I’m do­ing with you guys” so hope­fully we can start im­ple­ment­ing this pro­gram in other com­mu­ni­ties. It needs the right peo­ple, lots of re­sources, a lot of money and lots of ef­fort, but the statis­tics show the re­sults are pro­found. Asian Jour­nal: Is there an op­por­tu­nity for oth­ers to get in­volved and help in the pro­gram? Jesse Sa­hota: When I grad­u­ated in 2010, I didn’t have any links to the Wrap progam, but I ap­proached Rob Rai and said I wanted to help out. So I think there are some vol­un­teer op­por­tu­ni­ties. We have stu­dents from SFU, Van­cou­ver Col­lege, BCIT and I be­lieve Dou­glas Col­lege. It’s an awe­some stu­dent in­tern pro­gram which has re­sulted in a num­ber of them be­ing hired. If any­one would like more in­for­ma­tion or is in­ter­ested in help­ing with the pro­gram they should con­tact Rob Rai, Manager of the Safe Schools, 604.595.6195.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.