The power of investing time with young people

The power of investing time with young people

How do we motivate and inspire the millions of young people who are drifting aimlessly to become the best they can be? How do we move alongside young people trying to find their way through the confusing adolescent years? How do we galvanize communities to develop a global youth mentoring crusade?These are some of the questions I am regularly asking myself, though I have no clear answers, other than knowing that something has to happen to create a global movement that sees the skills, knowledge and life experience of millions of potential volunteer adult mentors being shared with young people often desperate to have a significant adult in their lives to guide them, be a non-judgmental Cheerleader and encourager. Reflecting on mentoring programs I have been involved with, I recall conversations with mentors who had expressed disappointment that their mentees might not have completed a relatively easy task they agreed to see completed when they last met. During the training of volunteer adolescent mentors, which I link to my user-friendly book, The Spirit of Mentoring – A manual for adult volunteers,  which has hundreds of tips for mentors to consider during the mentoring journey, I suggest to mentors that they have no expectations of their mentees when they begin the mentoring journey. Then they will not be disappointed. Most young people entering a mentoring program are lacking self-confidence and genuinely believe they can’t achieve much with their lives. This might be because of the messages they might be receiving from parents, peers and teachers. Perhaps it is because they might have a sibling who appears to do well at school,...
Early lessons learnt or reinforced in setting up a youth mentoring program

Early lessons learnt or reinforced in setting up a youth mentoring program

Are you involved in setting up a youth mentoring program? Are there days you feel overwhelmed? I wrote down some thoughts when I was setting up from scratch the Gr8 Mates school-based youth mentoring program.There were ongoing lessons being learnt on the journey. What follows are some of the lessons I learnt: Make sure the program is internationally credible, which requires a Policies and Procedures Manual. There are some good examples of these on internationally credible youth mentoring websites. Develop a budget and have a plan as to how the program will roll out. Gr8 Mates had a possible 5 year budget plan which was continually being revised as the program was being developed. It added credibility to the program when approaching potential donors. Develop the program slowly. Don’t try to make it too big too fast. A quality program will take time to develop. I rewrote of the Policies and Procedures Manual within the first three to six months of launching the program. Think about evaluation all the time. I recorded ‘every’ inquiry about the program and also knew how most of the people contacting me had heard about the program. I evaluated the mentor training, the mentee training and the mentor/mentee matching session. Keep building partnerships and networks within the local and wider community eg, businesses; University of the 3rd Age; faith institutions; Sport Clubs and so on.. Make the training free wherever possible – after all, the mentors are volunteering their time. The host school contributed a small amount for each participating student and this covered most of the mentor’s training accreditation fee. We covered the...
6 aspects of youth mentoring that make it so needed in our global community

6 aspects of youth mentoring that make it so needed in our global community

Do you believe that young people benefit from having non-judgmental Cheerleaders in their adolescent lives? Can you remember having any significant, non-parent, people guiding you through those challenging and confusing teenage years? Mentoring guru, Marc Freedman, wrote one of the greatest books I have read on youth mentoring, The Kindness of Strangers – Adult Mentors, Urban Youth and the New Voluntarism, in 1993. It is as valid today as it was back then.Freedman mentions what he refers to as “a set of timely and attractive properties” that helps explain the emergence of mentoring “as a means of achieving social linkage”. I am sharing these six properties and give all the credit to Marc Freedman for the content of the Blog, extracts being taken from pages 56 to 58 of his book. Mentoring is simple. The “one to one” concept takes an overwhelming set of social problems, such as those associated with poverty and makes them comprehensible by focusing on the needs of a single young person. One group states, “Maybe you can’t change the world, but you can make a difference in the future of at least one young person.” In this way, mentoring personalizes responsibility and allows the individual to act. Mentoring is direct. Mentoring simultaneously satisfies a sense of urgency and a desire to cut through red tape to help youth directly. It doesn’t require faith in intermediary institutions, but enables individuals to draw on their own resources. Mentoring is highly sympathetic. Being dubbed a mentor is neither neutral nor objective, like tutor or volunteer. It is an honour that flatters the volunteer. Mentoring is legitimate. It...
How will Artificial Intelligence impact young lives?

How will Artificial Intelligence impact young lives?

How do you think Artificial Intelligence will impact your life? How do you think Artificial Intelligence will impact your relationships? These are interesting questions to discuss with an adolescent mentee, especially at a time when we are continually being told that the digital age will see many current jobs becoming obsolete during the next few years. A significant contribution a volunteer adult mentor can make to the life of an adolescent mentee is to build a web of protective factors or characteristics around the young person that will reduce the negative impact of stressful situations and problems, thus fostering resiliency.Some ways a mentor can do this would include the following six strategies which, when combined, are likely to see the development of positive self-concepts, connection to school, improved academic results, respect for authority and a more resilient young person. I can vouch for this from my mentoring, teaching and coaching experiences. Provide unconditional caring, support and encouragement. Let mentees hear the message “You matter!” Catch them being good and acknowledge their efforts. Increase bonding. Strengthen the connections between mentees and pos­itive adults and peers; and between mentees and any positive social activity (eg, sports, art, music, writing, dance, community service, reading or learn­ing). Mentees with strong, positive bonds are less likely to be involved in high risk behaviours than those without such bonds. Set clear, consistent boundaries. Mentees need clear and consistent rules or boundaries (eg, family rules and norms, school policies and procedures, communi­ty laws and norms) within which they are encouraged to become the best they can be. These must be clearly spelt out and consistent­ly enforced....
Hot Tips for effectively guiding young people

Hot Tips for effectively guiding young people

We have to continually remind ourselves that researchers suggest that young people want to feel cared for (loved) valued that their lives have meaning and purpose 7 ways to understand and encourage Today’s adolescents Most of today’s children learn best by doing things, reflecting on the experience and learning lessons from the activity which they can then apply to their daily lives. As adults we can help them make sense of what appears to them at times to be much confusion. Children value and appreciate recognition for their efforts eg, a special meal, a positive text message, a congratulatory card, something special in their lunch packs, a surprise of some sort which does not have to cost a great deal of money – preferably none at all! Children enjoy hearing true stories which they can relate to, which might motivate them, inspire them, reassure them etc. Children value learning from older people they respect who are genuine and who walk the talk. Such people create an emotionally safe environment in which they also feel secure. Children enjoy diversity and change – how can we, as mentors, parents and coaches, encourage them at such times? Children value consensus and collaboration, two key words in their world. Children value clear and concise communication. 10 Hot Tips for Effective Mentoring, Parenting and Coaching adolescents Listen! Listen! Listen! Love unconditionally and never quit. Apologise sincerely when in the wrong and never publicly humiliate them. Walk alongside them as they explore career options, always encouraging them to go after their dreams. Empathise and affirm. Negotiate boundaries and be consistent. Catch them doing good and...