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Mentoring Young People is In the Spotlight

by PeakCare Qld on 19th October 2016

Home -> Articles -> 2016 -> October -> Mentoring Young People is In the Spotlight

Multicultural Youth Empowerment Strategy (M-YES) was founded by Tamba Thomas in 2009. As a migrant himself, his observations of the needs of young people from diverse backgrounds led to this mentoring strategy. Thomas saw the need for mentoring and guidance for young people offered in a safe and inclusive manner. This not-for-profit organisation has reinvented itself and in recognition of the importance of mentoring for all vulnerable young people in South East Queensland aged 14 to 24 years now offers their program to all who face disadvantage.

M-YES empowers young people to set goals and aspire to achieve by offering information about opportunities and supporting young people as they step through each process required to attain personal, educational and training goals. Whatever a young person aims for, mentors of M-YES do everything possible to assist them. ?Over the past 5 years, M-YES has developed and implemented a range of policies, frameworks and strategies aimed atimproving and maintaining learning, social networking and community inclusion opportunities for young people in need of guidance and support.

They offer individualmentoring as well as guidance to access and maintain education and training programs. They also engage with sporting activities as well as walking alongside young people in any endeavor that the young person identifies as significant to them.

Each mentor is trained to acquire skills to motivate, empower and guide young people to experience wellbeing and positive life experiences. M-YES has a passion for change and an ongoing commitment towards creating support networks that enrich the social positioning of young people who experience complexities in their lives.

The young people who have elected to join M-YES share an eagerness to embark on a journey to find people who care about their wellbeing and goals and who are cognisant of their challenges along the way. Mentors offer young people the tools they need to thrive educationally and socially whilst aiming to enhance their sense of belonging.

While mentors can be found in all facets of life, within M-YES they are drawn together by the shared vision that by empowering all young people through a mentoring strategy, the pupils of today will lead and pave a brighter future, for themselves and the nation. Through this vision M-YES aims to match every young person with an appropriate mentor. When offered with enthusiasm, a genuine concern for the wellbeing of young people and a positive outlook, mentoring can be a significantly positive factor in highlighting opportunities and guiding the life choices that young people make.

Bob Haylar is an M-YES mentor. He has spent over a decade working in the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. Throughout his professional roles, Bob observed behavioural challenges in children in out-of-home care settings. Children and young people who had experienced significant trauma, acting out in ways that often confounded foster carers. Whilst Bob recognised the value of qualified Social Workers, Psychologists, Psychiatrists, Residential Care Workers and other care professionals in a child or young person’s life, he felt that the relationship and connection that comes from an ‘inspiring friend’ was missing for many.

Bob joined M-YES in 2013 following a public seminar at Griffith University. Bob viewed the M-YES mentoring program as enacting the type of social work that he’d previously deemed to be undervalued and underutilised in addressing the myriad of issues that children and young people face.

During his time as a mentor Bob notes that he has had the incredible experience of learning about different cultures and hearing from young people about their life experiences whilst developing lasting connections. He considers mentoring to be one of the most cost effective and untapped resources in its capacity to impact positively on the many young people who are at risk of entering adulthood with limited aspirations and some self-destructive behaviours that include participation in criminal activity and potentially addictive habits.

Mentors assist young people with various goals including learning to drive a car, enrolling in educational facilities, gaining living skills and enjoying recreational outlets. Whilst this assistance is important, the connection between young people and their mentor is key. Bob states: “Without an inspiring friend, young people tend to fall back into old habits, associate with peers who are not always the best role models. It’s a self-perpetuating system of negative reinforcement that is especially influential on the young and vulnerable.” To combat this, Bob insists that the most effective mentoring arrangement is a non-clinical, informal one that offers a sincere, supportive and enjoyable friendship.

Bob further states: “It’s about finding common ground. Friendship gives you the platform to do that effectively. The problem I encountered a couple of times was how well adjusted some of the mentees seemed. There was no apparent care or concern. I thought that there was little I could do for them and yet after getting to know them properly and building a strong rapport, they were comfortable discussing events and struggles they’ve dealt with in life. It’s deceptive given how fragile they really are, but they’ll never really open up about those issues unless you take the time to get to know them.”

Bob tells the story of Psychiatrist Dr Bacom who endeavoured to support a 15 year old boy who had lost his Dad 4 years prior. His mother was concerned about his behavior which included alcohol use, gang membership and violence. Dr Bacom, following his interaction with this young man, concluded:

“I’ve come to believe that most adolescent boys can’t make use of professional counselling. What a boy can use, and all too often doesn’t have, is the fellowship of men, at least one man who pays attention to him, who spends time with, who admires him. A boy needs a man he can look up to. What he doesn’t need is a shrink”

Bob is passionate about mentoring and believes it can exist across our communities. “There are many potential mentors out there, they’re just not aware of this potential for mentoring. Mentoring can take many forms, things like when at a sporting event with your son, take notice of boys who may be without a parent or who are seemingly isolated. Simple acts like asking your son to invite the young person who is left out and including him in events like barbeques or stuff like that. Or take the child next door for example, whose parents are having all sorts of trouble with him evident by frequent police visitations to the residence. Just start a conversation over the back fence, find a common interest so you have a platform to help them out. It’s about starting a social movement, using love, guidance and encouragement. Anyone can inspire and motivate those at risk.”

A current focus of M-YES is expanding their membership base. Funding is currently obtained through member donations and professional services offered to other community organisations.

For further information about M-YES please visit their website.

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