Youth Mentoring Programs at Jewish Care

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24 October 2017

October 23-29 is Youth Mentoring Week, recognising and celebrating the positive impact participating in youth mentoring programs has on the lives of young people and mentors. Jewish Care Victoria has a long history of working with, and supporting, young people in the Jewish community by offering youth mentoring programs that connect 14-18 year-olds with independent and trained mentors aged 25 years and over.

Adolescence can be a challenging time. The rush of modern life, family and social group complexities and pressures, and the demands of school and extracurricular activities can leave young people with little dedicated time to seek guidance and establish positive, meaningful, and long-lasting relationships with others. Jewish Care’s Youth Mentoring Programs enable young people in the Jewish community to connect with understanding adult mentors who support and encourage them in achieving their goals, responding to challenges, and stepping outside of their comfort zone.

Participating in youth mentoring programs is a win-win for young people and mentors. For mentees, benefits of increased confidence and self-esteem, the development of new perspectives, and improved social and emotional wellbeing are some of the outcomes of the yearlong program. Mentors enjoy sharing knowledge and lived-experience with, and being part of the personal growth of, the young people they mentor. Additionally, mentees and mentors both suggest that building strong and positive intergenerational relationships has improved their connection to the Jewish community.

Jewish Care offers two youth mentoring programs, Youth Aspire and Young Achievers Program, aimed at catering to the diverse mentoring needs of young people in the community.

The Young Achievers Program (YAP) has been successfully running for over a decade and engages high-achieving young people who are ambitious and motivated to achieve. In addition to one-on-one mentoring, a key feature of YAP is the professional and personal development workshops selected by participants that present opportunities to develop new and exciting skills whilst establishing strong friendships between participants.

Born in 2016 out of the recognition that the mentoring needs of young people vary, Jewish Care’s Youth Aspire Program connects mentors with young people who are at greater risk of experiencing personal or family challenges that may impact their confidence and resilience, ability to cope, or attendance at school. Participants in Youth Aspire benefit from the connection to a supportive adult role model without the expectation of attending group workshops. Instead, a more-individualised plan is developed that may take the mentor and mentee into activities and experiences that are tailored to suit the needs and interests of the young person. For some young people, an opportunity to connect with and experience a mentor can act as a prelude to later engagement with YAP.

In order to develop meaningful relationships, mentors and mentees in both Young Achievers and Youth Aspire Programs are encouraged to maintain regular contact. Whilst conversational interactions are promoted, for many mentors and mentees, participating in activities they jointly negotiate based on shared interests is a fundamental component of engagement.

To ensure the safety of young people participating in Jewish Care’s youth mentoring programs, all mentors receive intensive training and ongoing support throughout the program. Mentors are also required to obtain Police and Working with Children Checks, and undertake Safeguarding Children online training.

This Youth Mentoring Week, Jewish Care is encouraging people interested in youth mentoring to get involved. Participation in Jewish Care’s Young Achievers and Youth Aspire Mentoring Programs is free-of-charge for mentees and mentors. Expressions of interest from young people interested in participating in Jewish Care’s Young Achievers Program close on 6 November, whilst expressions of interest for participation in the Youth Aspire Program are accepted year-round. Adults interested in becoming mentors can also contact Jewish Care at any time throughout the year.

For more information on Jewish Care’s youth mentoring programs, call Jewish Care’s Front Door on 8517 5999 or email [email protected].