Mentoring News – May 2013

 2013 Mentoring Symposium
Celebrating 100 Years of Mentoring Youth in Canada:
Innovative Partnerships, Practice and Research
November 5 – 7, 2013
Banff Centre, Banff, Alberta
It’s About Inspiring Lives
To register online now, click here.
To complete a mail-in form, click here.
To access the full event information package, please click here.
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The National Mentoring Symposium will celebrate 100 years of mentoring across Canada by showcasing innovative mentoring partnerships, practices, programs and research and by setting the stage for mentoring in the future.
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Canada (BBBSC) and The Alberta Mentoring Partnership (AMP) are working together to co-host the first ever national conference on mentoring.  The event will strive to advance the unique contributions of mentoring to the well being of children and youth, volunteer mentors and communities across Canada by highlighting innovative partnerships, promising practices or programs and the state of the research.
This symposium includes four keynote presentations including Michael Ungar, Network Director of the Children and Youth in Challenging Contexts Network and founder and Co-Director of the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University; Max Valiquette, one of Canada’s best known culture and media experts and commentators; and Tom Jackson, actor, singer, producer and activist. A Research Institute will focus on evidence related to mentoring from across Canada and internationally. Over 30 speakers will present over two and half-days through breakout presentations and a cracker barrel session. A forum involving 25 youth will coincide with the symposium and results from their forum will be presented on the final day.
Attendees will be surrounded by opportunities to network and partner while being encircled by the rich beauty of Alberta’s Banff National Park.
Hosted at The Banff Centre, all events are one place. Breakfasts, lunches and an opening reception will ensure attendees are well fed while away from home.

AMP at the Fifth Annual Speak Out Conference

The League of Extraordinary Mentors: Find the Super Mentor Inside of You! Workshop at SpeakOut 2013
From left to right: Sue Bell (Alberta Education), Emily & Mikaela (Minister’s Student Advisory Council Members) and Jodi McKay (AMP Provincial Coordinator)
The fifth Annual Speak Out Conference took place in Edmonton from April 12-14, 2013. The Conference was an opportunity for Alberta’s youth to come together from every corner of the province to discuss their perspectives and ideas on how to improve education. This year, 200 students, aged 14 to 19, came together to learn more about, and provide input on, the work and initiatives going on within Alberta Education. It was a huge success and the Alberta Mentoring Partnership was excited to be involved! A workshop called The League of Extraordinary Mentors: Find the Super Mentor Inside of You! provided students with an opportunity to discuss the importance of mentoring, and consider ways in which they can make a positive difference through mentorship. The workshop included information about mentoring, the benefits of mentoring, mentorship support, resources, and programs. The workshop was designed and facilitated by representatives from Alberta Education, the Alberta Mentoring Partnership, and the Minister’s Student Advisory Council.
Students in the workshop were greeted by presenters dressed as superheroes, superhero music, and craft supplies to enable them to create their own superhero mask/persona based on their strengths. This led to a discussion about strength-based practices, where the youth shared their strengths with one another. Students then had the opportunity to discuss the impact and benefit of mentoring, as well as learn about the mentoring resources available to them. They ended with a discussion about how they can bring mentorship and a strength-based lens to their communities. Highlights of actions identified by the youth included:

  • Encouraging their schools to continue/ enhance their mentorship programs and curriculum, or if not currently in place, talk to teachers and principals to initiate mentorship programs and courses (“Talk to my principal and teachers about getting mentorship programs and courses offered in my school.”)
  • Building awareness of/ promoting mentoring by talking to friends, family and sports teams (“Tell stories about my experiences.”)
  • Taking the online mentorship course (“Tell my Pathfinder group about mentor training.”
  • Becoming a mentor and joining/ starting mentoring programs (In Girl Guides, karate, sports teams, at home, with a cousin).
  • Being a better mentor (“Enhance my current mentor relationships by being strengths-based.”)

The input received from students through these workshops will provide valuable information to Alberta Education and the Alberta Mentoring Partnership to improve programming and resources. This includes presenting the feedback received to the Alberta Mentoring Partnership Leadership Team in early summer, as well as to inform the partnership’s next phase communication strategy. Students are expected to spread the word about the importance of mentoring and opportunities, and are ‘called to action’ to get involved.

Students in the workshop were greeted by presenters dressed as superheroes, superhero music, and craft supplies to enable them to create their own superhero mask/persona based on their strengths

TED Talk

Rita Pierson: Every kid needs a champion

Rita Pierson, a teacher for 40 years, once heard a colleague say, “They don’t pay me to like the kids.” Her response: “Kids don’t learn from people they don’t like.’” A rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.

Realizing the Potential of Learning in Middle Adolescence
Halpern, Heckman, & Larson (2013)
“Adolescence is a time of enormous potential for learning. This idea might or might not seem obvious, but what is surely true is that Americans are skeptical, and neglectful, of it. Our culture all too rarely creates the affordances – settings, relationships, roles – that would help young people realize their learning potential. The aim of this paper is to provide the empirical foundation for doing so. The authors highlight what research shows about the design and conditions for good learning experiences during the high school years, providing ten principles for the design of learning during this critical life period.”

Click here to see the full report.

Promoting Inclusion, Learning and Meaningful Relationships Using Peer Support Strategies


Facilitator(s): Erik Carter
Date: May 29, 2013
Time: 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
Cost: $65.00 (includes lunch and a copy of “Peer Buddy Programs for Successful Secondary School Inclusion”)
Location: Greenwood Inn,
3515-26 Street NE, Calgary


Facilitator(s): Erik Carter
Date: May 30, 2013
Time: 9:00 am – 3:30 pm
Cost: $65.00 (includes lunch and a copy of “Peer Buddy Programs for Successful Secondary School Inclusion”)
Location: Edmonton (ATA Barnett House) 11010 – 142 Street NW

Promoting Inclusion, Learning and Meaningful Relationships Using Peer Support Strategies

Who should attend
School Leaders, Counselors, Learning Coaches, CTS teachers, Junior and High School (Secondary) Teachers and School Staff • who are committed to expanding social and communication interactions between students with cognitive disabilities and their peers •who work in a high school (Grades 7-12) where at least one student has a cognitive disability

About this learning opportunity

High schools can provide rich social and communication experiences.  Ensuring that students with cognitive disabilities, autism and other developmental disabilities benefit from these opportunities is an important challenge.
This interactive workshop will address practical and promising approaches for developing supports and fostering relationships among students with and without significant disabilities both in the classroom and throughout the broader life of their schools.

 Dr. Carter’s projects have focused on:

  • Implementing peer support strategies as an evidence-based approach for promoting curricular access and social interaction within inclusive classrooms and extracurricular activities, and
  • Fostering natural supports as an avenue for promoting inclusion in service-learning, after-school, and community activities.

This workshop will highlight strategies learned through these projects, as well as ideas for launching extending efforts within inclusive schools.
Learner Outcomes: By attending this session, you will learn:

  1. How peer support strategies are mutually beneficial, boosting the academic engagement, social skills, and peer relationships of students with disabilities and the peers who provide support.
  2. How to recruit and match the students most likely to form mutually beneficial relationships.
  3. How to develop effective strategies for promoting access to classroom learning and other school activities.
  4. How to orient peers to their roles and provide the guidance peers need to approach their support roles with confidence and enthusiasm.
  5. How to evaluate the social and academic impact of peer support arrangements in their schools.
  6. How to access Alberta learning resources and course opportunities to support peer mentoring programs.

This learning opportunity is subsidized as a result of a grant from Alberta Education to support implementation.

About the facilitator(s)

Erik Carter is an Associate Professor in the Department Special Education at Vanderbilt University. His research and teaching focuses on evidence-based strategies for supporting access to the general curriculum and promoting valued roles in school, work, and community settings for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. He has published widely in the areas of educational and transition services for children and youth with significant disabilities. His most recent books are Peer Support Strategies: Improving All Students’ Social Lives and Learning (Brookes Publishing), Peer Buddy Programs for Successful Secondary School Inclusion (Brookes Publishing), and The New Transition Handbook: Strategies High School Teachers Use That Work! (Brookes Publishing).
ngth and duration and derived similar benefits from program participation.

  • However, the challenges and training needs reported by mentors and the reasons matches ended differed as a function of the risk profiles of youth.
  • The strongest program benefit, and most consistent across risk groups, was a reduction in depressive symptoms—which is particularly noteworthy given that almost one in four youth reported worrisome levels of these symptoms at baseline (and that past research has linked depression to a host of other short- and long-term problems for youth).
  • The study’s findings also point to gains in social acceptance, academic attitudes and grades. Youth did not appear to benefit in their relationships with parents or behavior toward peers or to show reduced misconduct.
  • In addition to benefits in specific domains, mentored youth also experienced gains in a greater number of outcomes than youth in the comparison group.
  • Mentors who received early-match training and consistent program support met more frequently and had longer-lasting relationships with their mentees. Youth whose mentors received training also reported higher-quality relationships.

These findings have a number of important implications for practitioners and funders. Overall, the study’s results suggest that mentoring programs can be beneficial for youth with a broad range of backgrounds and characteristics. Tailoring the training and support that is available to matches based on the specific risks youth face has the potential to produce even stronger benefits.
Find more great research at

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