Committee developing mentoring program for community’s youth

Sylvan Lake Mentoring Committee has been working closely with Alberta Mentoring Partnership and are in the process of developing

Sylvan Lake Mentoring Committee has been working closely with Alberta Mentoring Partnership and are in the process of developing a program for children and youth in our community.

The program will work with local schools, be community based, and will most likely involve having older youth mentoring younger youth.

Mentoring, if you don’t already know, is the presence of a caring individual who provides a young person with support, advice, friendship, reinforcement and constructive role modeling over time. It is a powerful way of lending support to a young person by teaching skills, listening to their perspectives and creating a sense of belonging. Research tells us that, over time, consistent interaction with a mentor increases the likelihood that a child or youth will complete high school and experience success in life.

Spending as little as an hour a week with a young person can make a difference in their life … and yours. The strong relationships between mentors and youth have huge impacts on the lives of youth. From these relationships, mentees exhibit improved academic performance, less behaviour problems, and enhanced attitudes toward school.

Mentoring helps improve peer and family relationships, and helps Alberta’s youth develop the  confidence, self-esteem and social skills they need to be productive members of society.

Many people think it takes special skills or accomplishments to be a mentor. Not so! Mentors come from all walks of life and have different life experiences and different things to offer. What mentors have in common is the desire to make a positive difference in the life of a child or youth. You don’t need to have superhuman qualities to be a mentor, just human ones. Mentoring offers you the power to transform lives and make a difference.

There are proven benefits of having mentoring programs;

• Strong mentorship programs will help Alberta’s children and youth develop the confidence, self-esteem and skills they need to be successful in school and in life.

• Mentoring is widely recognized as contributing to strong and healthy communities.

• Mentoring helps forge stronger links for students in career and employment programs, so young Albertans are able to take full advantage of the working and learning opportunities available in the province.

• Research supports that school-based mentoring impacts positive outcomes for children and youth including: increased high school completion rates, improved attitudes about staying in school, enhanced academic motivation and achievement, improved social skills and behaviour, improved resiliency, strengthened peer, school and family relationships, reduced risk of involvement with drugs, and increased sense of belonging in the school community.

Mentoring can take many forms. Some people may be familiar with formal mentoring programs facilitated by agencies such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Clubs and local FCSSAA (Family and Community Support Services Association of Alberta) offices.

Many Alberta schools and communities have some form of informal mentoring activities happening such as youth leadership or community service activities, volunteer reading partners, Study Buddy programs and coaching of athletics and the arts. Many schools and communities are also engaged in strength-based programs such as Lion’s Quest, and Tribes and Development Assets. The shared outcome of all of these activities is to support success both in Alberta’s safe and caring schools, and in our communities.