What makes mentoring work for young women and girls? – having a supportive network. The 10 young female high school mentors on Salt Spring Island had their opportunity to test out their own expectations of what mentoring is this past week. Of the 10 mentors, half were able to make a connection. A week of exams and busy schedules got in the way for some, but all are still committed with either follow-up dates or initial meetings in the works.
As the mentors burst into the bi-weekly meeting room with their adult mentor supervisor, they could barely contain themselves, as they eagerly wanted and needed to share their ‘first meeting’ stories. Not every initial meeting was idyllic nor smooth. There is no predicting what a ‘buddy’ will bring forward and not all mentors felt entirely prepared to deal with the kinds of comments or questions that the younger girls brought forward. It is evident that their bi-weekly talking circle is crucial in building confidence, maintaining momentum, and supporting each other through example, modeling, and brain storming strategies. With their competence and skills reaffirmed, the mentors eagerly anticipated ways to re-connect with their buddies in the coming weeks. Some of their great ideas on how to spend time with their buddies doesn’t necessarily mean spending money or sitting in coffee shops. Instead they suggested:
- going to a basketball or soccer game at the high school (with another mentor and buddy)
- swimming together
- baking together
- arranging the visit at either the mentor’s or buddy’s home
- going for a bike ride
- climbing trees together
In addition, they are keen to bring both the mentors and buddies together for a social gathering. In the works is a brunch and clothing swap. And because the mentors feel so positive about the program, they want to ensure there is funding for the program to continue next year. They are considering a fundraiser – an outdoor concert with 3 bands in the spring. More on that in the weeks to come.
The Pass it On Project is definitely up and running on Salt Spring Island and it is all possible because the mentors and adult mentor supervisor have created a safe, respectful and collaborative community of mentors mentoring mentors. Connections that last a lifetime.
Chris Gay – (Pass It On Coordinator)