While we have not been involved with the program, we are delighted to see the potential of mentoring acknowledged with such a high profile and far reaching program.
Most importantly, we are thrilled that 1200 young people will benefit from the personal growth that mentoring allows.
How does it work?
Currently in the recruitment and matching stage, Youth Frontiers targets students having difficulty engaging with the education system. Once paired with an adult mentor, students are asked to develop a community project idea.
A recent US study of 73 independent youth mentoring programs found that mentoring impacts social, emotional, behavioural and academic outcomes for young people.
Student mentoring has been demonstrated to improve attendance and engagement with school, as well as building confidence and skills, which ultimately results in improved grades.
The NSW program has only just begun, but research and experience suggest the following outcomes could be expected:
- The opportunity to work on a project of significance to the community will increase students’ sense of self-worth and confidence;
- One to one interaction with an adult who is not a parent will provide opportunities to explore career options and learn new skills;
- Young people are likely to come away from the program with higher personal goals.
As with corporate mentoring, programs for youth can be developed in many forms. The NSW program follows the most common type, volunteer adult-to-student. We would recommend that program developers in the youth arena also consider other formats.
Peer-to-peer programs could be used to foster greater understanding for and integration of minority student groups. A reverse mentoring program, allowing students to mentor adults in the community on language or technical skills, would not only provide a community service but bolster students’ sense of confidence and belonging.
Mentoring is a wonderful gift to young people, with the potential to make a positive and lasting difference to their lives. Ultimately, of course, youth mentoring is a gift to society, encouraging a more cohesive and accomplished community.