Home share provider embracing professional and parental roles
After supporting Brian for only a short while, Darren MacLellan knew he wanted to make a difference in his life.
Twelve years ago Darren met 8-year-old Brian at a group home in B.C., where his social worker was looking to move him out. Darren was working part-time with posAbilities, and he stepped up to the plate and offered his services to become a home share provider.
“I didn’t want to see him bounced around from home to home,” says Darren. “The rest is history,” he adds. Brian, now 20, has lived with Darren ever since, and grown into a complex young man.
Over that time, Brian has changed Darren’s entire perspective on life.
“He’s taught me so many things about understanding and my own beliefs system and accepting people for who they are,” says Darren.
Darren has earned the title “dad” by embracing a parental, as well as professional, role in Brian’s life. This has drawn him out of his comfort zone at times.
The two have grown together over a shared passion for sports in their youth.
“I had him involved in every sport you can imagine,” says Darren. “When he was younger he was playing soccer, lacrosse, swimming and judo.” As Brian got older he tried wrestling, rock climbing, field and box lacrosse and rugby.
“I saw the value in staying active,” says Darren. “Obviously, it gives them something to do in their spare time, so that keeps them out of trouble. Idle time is the devil’s playground, so they say.”
He also hopes all those sports have taught Brian about being a good winner, a good loser and that there’s always competition in life — there’s no real feeling of reward unless you’ve fought adversity to earn something.
Darren hopes Brian will take those life lessons to heart.
“I encourage him to stay involved in sports and do active things,” he says, though admits that Brian’s interest has tapered off as he’s grown older.
Athletic activities have put Brian on the path to accomplishing some life achievements as well, like earning his black belt in judo, if he sticks with it. Brian has already earned his brown belt, which is the final level before earning the black belt.
“I’m trying to encourage him to go back and finish it off. It’s a lifetime achievement thing, not an overnight thing to get your black belt,” says Darren.
In their time together, Darren says there have been some rocky times, but they’ve always managed to reconcile their differences.
“The fact he’s really connected to me has been really positive,” says Darren. “He’s found a home with me and a real comfort zone — he calls me whenever he feels unsafe or anxious. I think building that close bond to keep him safe has been a real value.”