Young people sometimes need opportunities to talk to and be supported by other young people or adults who are removed from their immediate family. It sometimes just makes it easier to have a “big brother” or “big sister” with a different role!
Many staff, youth leaders, GAP students and volunteers at C2K are youth mentors. This means meeting with the young person weekly or fortnightly, hearing their concerns, encouraging their dreams, advising on how to avoid tricky situations – basically walking together and sharing life experiences. One of the great things to see is watching “once were mentorees” becoming mentors 10 years down the track. That’s interest back on your investment in people!!
Mentoring is a very dynamic experience for both, the mentor and the mentee. It might start with a feeling of going nowhere as you’re trying to build a connection, but then the relationship slowly develops and grows until, one day, all of a sudden, you notice how your mentee actually wants to hang out and has been looking forward to it. When the interaction changes to a more comfortable, positive and open communication – that really is the best feedback for me.
As a mentor and tutor, I am constantly reminded that mentoring is far more than passing on information and skills to a young person. The crux of youth work is building positive and honest relationships, the rest is always secondary. In the alchemy of relationship, I find myself bumping into my own limitations and insecurities, seeing my own story mirrored back in the young people I meet. Working in this middle ground sometimes means admitting that I don’t have the answers to problems and can’t see how I can make things better. Lila Watson says: “If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let’s work together”. This quote captures how I want to approach the young people I mentor. In turn, it also reflects how I want to be mentored by those around me. Far deeper than the fickle desire to help and do good, mentoring is a practical commitment to empathise, build solidarity and share life with other people. In whatever shape and form, I am utterly convinced that vulnerability invites vulnerability and that people need other people.
Over the past 2 years I have been working alongside a young man named Jimmy (not his real name). Jimmy had first come to Challenge with a range of issues facing him at the time including truancy, a&d issues, almost irreconcilable family difficulties and was becoming heavily involved in anti-social behaviours. In the early stages of working, Jimmy and I sat down, worked out what he was good at and set goals to work towards. At first these were very small goals such as wearing correct school uniform, taking pride in himself – including a good haircut and being more punctual. As our relationship progressed so too did these goals. I’m glad to say that Jimmy, with the support of Challenge 2000 and various other community organisations, has gained his restricted drivers licence, has completed his NCEA Levels 1 & 2, has joined a dance academy after school, learning from and teaching other young people in his community. Jimmy has also attended leadership &personal development camps run by Challenge 2000 where he has had opportunities to reflect, identify and improve his strengths/ weaknesses and gain a greater awareness of others. Jimmy now has plans to one day join the New Zealand Navy and is currently studying toward this. Bit by bit he is also more able to relate too his family. He is a really good worker and a great young man. It’s been very worthwhile working with him every fortnight.
Challenge 2000 Youth Workers are working with over fifty young people in our community. At its heart, the individual mentoring programme is centered around uplifting our youth and driven by the needs of each young person. It is about enabling them to make smart decisions and to be ambitious with their goals. Our focus at Challenge 2000 is to support young people through the excitement and trials of their teenage years and to see them off thriving into their adult lives.
A problem you might be able to help with - Many of those we mentor come from families that do not own vehicles or can even afford to pay for bus or train fares. So we collect them or meet them in their neighbourhood.
PROBLEM: petrol is sooo expensive!
SOLUTION: you donate petrol vouchers – we need $5,000 per year
PLEASE: think and act to support our mentoring project.
Sometimes young people also need more professional assistance to deal with the challenges and confusion that they may be facing. We have some Counsellors at Challenge and also refer to other people for specific difficulties. We are fortunate to have a list of counsellors/coaches/supervisors/cultural counsellors who we know are competent and creative when working with young people. If you wish to contact us regarding mentoring or counselling, please call Nina Ness at Challenge 2000 04-477 0338 or email email@example.com