A Highlight on the Athletes Mentoring Program – Catholic Family Services

A highlight on one of AMP Partner Catholic Family Service‘s mentoring programs

AMP Key Contact, Ellyse Lambie, had the opportunity to visit the Athletes Mentoring Program, operated by Catholic Family Service in Calgary, earlier this month. Ellyse shares that “it was so encouraging to see a group of dedicated mentors and enthusiastic mentees come together to build relationships, cultivate friendships, learn new skills, and have fun.” The Athletes Mentoring Program focuses on increasing the self-esteem, self-confidence, and social-emotional skills of children and youth to improve their likelihood of completing school. Youth ages 9-14 receive weekly mentoring for two hours over 15-16 weeks at the post-secondary institution of their mentor between September and March. The program is designed with a mixed mentoring modality (group and one on one time) and each youth is matched with a student-athlete mentor. Group activities include sportsmanship through mentor practices, semi-structured time for physical activity with mentor, and structured individual activities with a focus on enhancing the youth’s self-esteem and social skills.

As meaningful involvement of parents in the mentoring program has been found to have a significant impact on the degree to which the youth achieves the intended outcomes of the program, parental engagement is central to the Athletes Mentoring Program. Included in this engagement is a home visit and discussion with parents about their children’s strengths, challenges, and goals, a group orientation, regular contact between parents and program staff, as well as support for the family’s transition to other community supports when the program ends. Parents and all family members also receive free tickets to the mentor’s home games.

It was recently reported to one of the staff of the Athletes Mentoring program by a mother that her son had started doing much more homework, and as a result, started engaging in the classroom more midway through the school year. When asked what had changed for him, the youth responded that his mentor, a basketball player at the U of C, had told him that he has to work very hard to get where he wants to be, and that work starts with school. One of many anecdotes about the success of the program, this story serves to demonstrate how far the impact of one caring mentor can go!

To learn more about Catholic Family Service or the Athlete’s Mentoring Program, visit http://www.cfs-ab.org . Thank you to all the staff, mentors, and mentees for sharing your story!