Last week, I had the honour of meeting Paris – an incredible man whose parents divorced at a young age, leaving a child with a father who wasn’t around, and a mother who worked around the clock to support them.

Generally, basic human nature desires love and attention, especially from parents; as such, it wasn’t overly atypical for Paris to act out. He was bullied at school, and by the time he was twelve, he was drinking, smoking, graffitiing… by fifteen, he had dropped out of school.

It wasn’t long before drugs took over his life where he became addicted to heroin, hung out with the wrong crowds and witnessed the deaths of street life, which only made him harder and more prone to anti-social behaviour.

At twenty-one, he ended up in jail. He had a son while behind bars. Then he found himself back in jail two weeks after getting out.

He told me there were so many times he should’ve been dead, so many times where his mum would visit him in hospital, wondering if this would be it.

59 per cent of prisoners serving less than twelve months go on to commit further crimes. When they are incarcerated, prisoners lose their freedom, their accommodation, their social connection. Though, according to the Department of Corrective Services, recidivism rates have reduced for both young people and adults in Western Australia over the years.

St Bartholomew’s House and a mentor played an integral part in breaking Paris’ destructive cycle; similar to Paris, Josh Shipp, a former at-risk foster kid turned youth advocate says it was that one caring adult, that did not allow him to be another statistic.

“Every kid is one caring adult away from being a success.”

Paris completed Year 10 in jail. He completed a university degree. He is a motivational speaker, a musician, an amazing father and son, human being, a motivation, inspiration – all the wonderful things that, although has helped shape him, don’t define him, simply because of his past.

Paris Mitchell is available for workshops, one-to-one coaching with individuals and organisations:

Author: Katie Liew