Take off with LevelUP Life Coaching

"You Have More Control Than You Think."

In October, Boston Project staff member David Meyerend offered 14-year-old Xavier* an extraordinary invitation:


 “Do you want to fly a plane?”


David got to know Xavier playing football, where Xavier stood out as competitive. The impression grew during a field trip this past summer at Boston Project’s teen job program. Xavier was one of the first to volunteer for a zipline course. “He’s a brave, fearless kid,” David shares. “Xavier doesn’t back down.”  (*Name changed)


True to character, Xavier said YES to flying.


David and Xavier drove together to Norwood Memorial Airfield, where Xavier remained reserved. Bobby, their pilot, brought them to their plane, a new, high-end aircraft. Once seated in the cockpit, Bobby led Xavier through the controls check. He tracked with the process, soaking in the details, and stayed calm. They took off and started the 30-minute flight southwest of Boston. It was a perfect day of sunshine and clear skies. At one point, they flew over Gillette Stadium, where Patriot players practiced on the field below.


Then came the moment. Bobby turned to Xavier and said, “The controls are yours.”


“I felt good and prepared,” Xavier shares. “All of the controls were challenging, but you have more control than you think. I felt like I knew what I was doing. When I made the [first] turn, I got a little bit dizzy. I couldn’t believe I was actually flying a plane!”


“He took to it quick,” David recalls. “And he kept wanting to fly. Anytime the pilot asked, ‘Do you want to fly? Xavier said ‘Yes.” At the same time, something else was happening, something David noticed even from the rear seat of the cockpit: joy spreading across his face. “I saw happiness and watched him come out of his shell. This was a moment of rest, peace, and being fully invested in himself.”


Do Something New Together


“You have more control than you think” is a life lesson for teenagers that speaks to the purpose of the program.


LevelUP Life Coaching equips teenagers with tools, opportunities, and coaches to discover their pathway to a flourishing adulthood.


David provided Xavier with a unique experience that day. But not all adult mentors need to go up in planes. Doing something new together is one of the simple but profound ways adults can be there for young people through LevelUP Life Coaching.


Ahnastasia Kielar, a coach, savors how good it was to accompany a LevelUP participant as she collected her graduation gown, cheering for her as she tried it on. Ahna shares, “This moment, and many similar ones, are powerful, meaningful instances of sharing the real moments of life with our youth.”


This school year, LevelUP Life Coaching launched its biggest cohort ever, matching life coaches with 25 young people. Youth get to know trusted, caring adults with similar interests. They build relationships at their own pace, with coaches reaching out regularly to help youth set a personal life roadmap, offer opportunities, and build positive connections.


Didi,* a LevelUP graduate, describes the impact of the program in her own words: “What I liked about life coaching was how balanced it was. Having a coach doesn’t mean they give you all the answers. They can only bring you so far, and you have to take the initiative. My coach was a good support system. She held onto my hand, but only onto my pinky finger. The rest I did on my own, and I was able to do it because of her support and her making sure that I actually was doing it. It was really helpful.”