Walking alongside a young person and encouraging them to reach their potential is one of the most satisfying experiences a volunteer adult, who is genuinely interested in young people and their development, can experience.
Most adults have had older, more experienced people guiding them at different stages of their lives. The sports coach, employer, teacher, youth leader, uncle or aunt, for example, took on different roles. They might have been advocates, cheerleaders, motivators, confidants or loyal friends. A mentor takes on similar roles.
Mentors of young people encourage them to make sensible choices and to reach their personal and academic or workforce potential by being positive, non-judgmental role models themselves.
As these young people begin to feel more competent and capable, they develop confidence and will be better able to cope with the challenges they will face on the journey through adolescence to adulthood.
While the mentor's focus is always on the young person, mentors also benefit from the relationship. Not only do they learn more about themselves, but they also improve their knowledge and skills in:
- Mentoring and counselling
- Understanding young people's issues
- Understanding other cultures
At the same time they can gain:
- Improved self-confidence
- Feelings of personal accomplishment
- Recognition from peers
- Enriched family lives
- More effective communication skills
- A greater sense of caring, enjoyment and friendship
- Increased networks as they bond with other mentors
- Improved interpersonal skills
Mentors of young people are making a positive, invaluable investment in the future of local and wider communities, yet having fun at the same time!