A story about the impact of mentoring from one of AMP’s Partners, Hull Services
You might think that after a long day working as part of the administrative team at a busy school, Calgarian Linda Smith might be ready to call it a day, go home, and put her feet up. Think again. Through the Mentors Matter program, Linda volunteers in the Pre-Adolescent Treatment Program. Linda mentors a 9-year-old girl in a one-to- one relationship and then volunteers extra time with kids in the program.
Linda and her mentee participate in activities such as swimming, singing and watching movies. Now entering her fourth year as a mentor with the same child, Linda has been able to witness the development and incredible potential of her mentee. “She is extremely gifted in song and dance,” says Linda. “She is a very bright little girl.”
For Linda, family is “really important” and that’s one of the reasons she believes so strongly in taking a key role in her mentee’s life. “All the research shows how important it is for a child to have at least one significant person in their life,” she says. Linda also spends time supporting children in the program. The children benefit from her calming relational support which helps them remain tranquil and regulated. Her activities with the children range from reading stories, singing, playing music, dancing, reading, colouring, painting, playing cards, biking, walking and sensory activities such as playing with Lego. “The important thing for me is to find something that’s of interest to the child,” she says. “I try to get to know what each kid likes.”
Linda recognizes the value of being “in parallel” with the children, understanding she does not always need to be engaged in conversation, and can help regulate a child by involving him or her in patterned repetitive activity. The time she dedicates to our youth is crucial to positive and healthy brain development and well-being. She adds, “I have to be sensitive to what each child is going through.”
When asked what she would tell someone who is thinking about becoming a mentor, Linda says, “It’s about building relationships and being able to see the goodness, talents and confidence of the child unfold and grow.”