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Peer Mentor Spotlight: Andrew Christopher

This month The NAN Project would like to feature Andrew in our regular PM Spotlight section.  Andrew has been with the NAN Project after completing the last Peer Mentor training back in January of 2020.  Andrew brings a lot of positivity to The NAN Project as well as some great ideas and lots of unique knowledge. 

1). Tell us how you learned about TNP and why you decided to join? How has your time with the NAN Project been ever since you completed the training?

I actually first learned about The NAN Project about four years ago when I was approached by Ellen Dalton when I was working for Eliot Community Human Services at the time in a different role and at the time I actually passed up the opportunity and I’m coming to regret that as it seems like a great organization.  So far, my time with The NAN Project has been great, it’s been very rewarding. You get to work with some very nice people and get to do worthwhile work as well.

2).  For our readers who haven’t had the chance to hear your story, can you highlight some of the supports you used to overcome your mental health challenges?

Certainly. Growing up I was a kid that had some issues. I was bullied. I have a few learning disabilities. The support systems that really helped me was a school counselor, a therapist and my parents mostly. My counselor advocated for one thing that really helped me – I got to take my tests in another room to limit distractions.  They have all been crucial in getting me where I am today.   

3). I know you mention your love of sports in your Comeback Story. What is your favorite to play? And what is your favorite to watch? 

Hockey has always been my favorite sport both to watch and to play. During this time I’ve actually been watching some old game I’ve never seen. They were there before my time, but still very fun to watch. The Summit Series between the USSR and Canada from the 70’s I found very interesting in particular. 

Andrew’s pup, Riley, has joined us during a few Zoom meetings!

4).  You mentioned in your Comeback Story that quitting sports was probably one of the biggest regrets in your life.  What made you get into sports and what was the first sport that you did?

It really is one of the bigger regrets in my life I would say.  I had always been someone that played sports. I come from a family that was very much into athletics and I grew up playing hockey. I essentially learned to skate as I learned to walk and after that I got into baseball, football, soccer, lacrosse and basketball all at different times.  Hockey and lacrosse are definitely the most fun to play though. Sports was a good outlet, where mental health didn’t matter. It wasn’t something that came up on the field, which I liked as a kid. 

5).  Were there any other jobs that you had in the past prior to working with The NAN Project that was related to Mental Health?

Yes, I actually worked for Eliot Community Human Services as a Peer Specialist in a group home for about five years called The Avenues Home. I got to work with some great kids, and through working with them, learned about myself. 

6). What would you say was the most meaningful presentation that you did?  And why?

One of the afternoon presentations we did in Methuen High School. I would say we had a very good group of kids that day. They were very active listeners and they had very good questions. I feel like my story related to more than a handful of kids in the room which is always very rewarding, even if you have two kids responding to your story that it’s a win – but it seemed that there seemed to be eight or nine at the time that was a really cool feeling for me.

7).  You mention being an avid reader in your Comeback Story. Can you tell us about a book you’ve recently finished, or about your favorite author.

A book I’m currently reading is about a French guy in the first World War called Poilu. It’s his four years of notebooks from serving in the first World War. It’s an interesting read.  One of my favorite authors though would be Kurt Vonnegut. I read just about everything he wrote before he passed away. What he wrote was always funny, smart and witty; there are no just not many writers of his quality, I think, with his humor.

Andrew’s bookshelf.

8).  Lastly, what is one thing that you feel grateful for in your life now?   

The health and wellness of my family, especially during this time. I’ve been very thankful during the Covid crisis no one in my family has come down sick or anything. My brother still lives in Brooklyn so we’ve all been very worried about him.  So, I’m very thankful for everyone that I know dearly that are healthy at this time.   

Thanks for sitting down to chat, Andrew!

To read more Peer Mentor Spotlights, click here!

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