Val Jordan, the Mentor Supervisor of the Pass It On Project in Prince George, knows her community well. Prince George is the Northern capital of British Columbia with a population of approximately 70,000. There is a strong multicultural and Aboriginal component to the city, with other communities often converging in Prince George for alternative education on the successful college and university campuses. Prince George is first and foremost a resource-based community, relying heavily on the forest industry, while diversifying to expand tourism and to contribute to the strong leadership within the health and wellness fields. For youth and children, the situation can appear dire at times with a heavy presence of gangs and their affiliates. However, there are many invested community members thriving and expanding their programs as well as volunteer based organizations, in an effort to boost protective factors in the community.
A champion in the community is key to the successful recruitment of any new program. One teacher in the target high school saw the program as beneficial. She spearheaded the recruitment and picked girls who would be a benefit as well as benefit from the program. Val adds, “I think once the girls came to the training retreat they were sold. Most of the girls have reflected upon the benefit of the mentor meetings as a forum and way to learn from each other. They of course want to effect change and help young girls to understand high school and teen pressures.”
One of the most important aspects of the program has been the recognition of the mentors. The training retreat to prepare the young high school women to be mentors was a highlight for all the mentors. So much so, they want to have a similar end of program event with their buddies. The aim is to have a dinner followed by a discussion about challenges girls face, along with a body image brainstorm.
Val concludes with, “I have to say I feel regularly rejuvenated at the mentor meetings.” After hearing all the positives about her program, we have to admit, we too are feeling rejuvenated about Pass It On in Prince George. Thanks Val.
Chris Gay – Pass It On II Coordinator