Time to connect with youth

By: Caitlin Watson

I would ask you to take a moment to reflect on your life journey. Who have been the important people who have supported you? Who have been the positive role models who you have aspired to be like? Who have been the people who have encouraged you in the tough times and motivated you to reach your potential?

For me, there are a number of people who come to mind: sports coaches, teachers and my parents.

However, for a number of young people in our community there are not the strong support systems in place to navigate the challenges that life can throw at them. These young people could do with being connected with an adult who is going to be a reliable, positive and trustworthy guide – a mentor.

Mental health studies have identified mentoring as a potential game changer and a tool that helps young people build resilience and self-confidence. Mentoring also seeks to ensure young people know they are cared for, have purpose and potential.

Mentoring can be described as “providing a purposeful, structured and trusting relationship, that brings young people together with caring individuals who offer guidance, support and encouragement.”

Natural mentoring has a rich history in New Zealand. The Māori concept of tuakana-teina captures the relationship between older guides and younger members of the whānau in shared activities alongside the passing on of important cultural knowledge.

As the opportunities for natural mentoring relationships have declined in today’s complex and fast-moving world, a variety of purposeful youth mentoring programmes have arisen.

This includes a new youth mentoring programme that is coming to the Coast – Coast Mentoring, a partnership between two local youth organisations, CYC Trust and Youth in Transition. This will be a collaborative, community effort that sees adults give their time to developing a caring and trusting relationship with a young Coastie.

If this piece can encourage you with anything, it would be to be mindful of how you can add value to young people’s lives in your corner of our community. Let’s enhance a culture of youth mentoring, whether formally or informally. By getting involved with mentoring, you are contributing to the development of a brighter future for youth in our community. Info: www.coastmentoring.nz

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