Youth in ROP demonstrate incredible strength, resiliency, and personal growth as they progress during their time here. One of the most amazing things to witness is when a long-time resident takes a new resident under his or her wing, and eases their transition into ROP by simply being there for them. As a youth worker, observing youth taking what they have learned about community and leadership and transforming it into meaningful connections with their peers is a truly wonderful experience.
Recently, a young man moved into ROP and he was a bit tentative and shy while he settled in. One day not long after, a co-resident approached me and asked if he could take the new resident on a bike ride. As an avid cyclist himself, he was eager to enjoy the sunshine and share this time with his new co-resident. As he helped “the new guy” be fitted for a helmet and bike, pack snacks and drinks, and show off his wheelie popping abilities, I couldn’t have been more proud of him.
He assured his co-resident that he would ride slowly so he could keep pace, although he usually rides like the wind. His awareness of his new friend’s needs, and the kindness and compassion he showed, was very inspiring. I waived to them both, and they were gone.
A few hours later, on their return, I pulled the youth aside and said that I was very proud of him for showing such great leadership. He was beaming, but shrugged it off nonchalantly saying “it was no big deal”. I told him that to the new resident, it was a very big deal, and sometimes the smallest things can make the biggest differences in people’s lives. He agreed, and just kept smiling.
This to me is what ROP is about. Helping youth to raise up not only themselves, but their peers, and inevitably the community around them. They are making the world a better place, one bike ride at a time.