Adam is a busy father of two with a full personal and professional life. Whether he’s managing a team at work or joining the family for a scenic drive on the weekend, there’s not a lot of free time in his schedule! Regardless, volunteering has always been important to Adam, so last year he signed up to mentor a young person in the Youth Frontiers program. Here, he shares with us his perspective.
I have always enjoyed helping people achieve their goals, and believe that it is important to give back to our communities. For me, volunteering not only provides the opportunity to make a difference in my community but helps me grow and develop as an individual. It’s also a great way to meet new people and connect through common interests!
To become a mentor in the Youth Frontiers program it’s really important to be non-judgemental – you’re there to listen to a young person, help them work through challenges, build confidence and empower them on their journey.
Paired for success
Before the first meeting with my ‘mentee’, Tom – wow, I was nervous! And excited at the same time. I didn’t know whether he would like me or whether we’d have anything to talk about. However, after the first 5 minutes spent talking about interests and hobbies we both realised we had lots in common.
We did lots of talking while playing games or sports. I found that this allowed him to relax and feel comfortable – which meant he was able to get the most out of the relationship.
Over the course of our mentoring sessions we talked about what it’s like when you finish school, the importance of self-awareness, and how being positive impacts you and the people around you. We touched on leadership skills by identifying where he’d demonstrated these in his life.
We also worked on job skills by discussing how to interview for your first job, and ‘what is a CV?’ We even did a few practise interviews, and I’m very proud to say that Tom wrote his first CV and is planning to get a job!
Giving back to the community
Once we had built trust, Tom was much more comfortable and open to ideas and new challenges. As part of the program we chose to do a community project: helping kids at a local primary school with their reading. Tom’s role was to help one primary kid read their favourite story book.
Before Tom’s first session we prepared by discussing how his reading buddy might be feeling nervous, and how Tom could help them feel comfortable. We also spoke about our goals for the session, which included boosting confidence and having a positive impact on reading skills.
I was very proud of Tom. Throughout the session he was calm and very considerate to his reading buddy, who clearly felt comfortable and acknowledged. The experience let Tom support another individual, which I think is extremely powerful. It helped him gain a greater insight into himself – for example thinking about what he was going to say, being aware of others and interacting in a non-judgemental way, and the positive effects he can have on others.
Reflecting on Youth Frontiers
Over the duration of the program I noticed an increase in Tom’s confidence, both in group and one-on-one settings. His communication skills also improved, not just with myself, but also when interacting with the MTC Youth Frontiers youth workers.
We attended a few group (students, mentors and youth workers) excursions, such as an NRL game and trip to the aquarium, which were both amazing. Some of the students were experts on marine life and gave us detailed information on the different species of fish they spotted – they could easily have gotten jobs as aquarium tour guides! The students got the opportunity to spend time with their peers in a safe environment, but it was a great experience for the adults too.
We all get caught up in the day-to-day and don’t stop to take in what’s going on around us. This whole experience has allowed me to become involved with my community, hear some of the challenges and offer help where I can. It’s allowed me to contribute my experience and knowledge to helping young people – in a way it’s helped reshape my perspective.
Want to volunteer with Youth Frontiers?
MTC is currently seeking volunteer mentors for the Youth Frontiers program. You don’t need any experience, as we provide training and ongoing support. You just have to want to help, and be enthusiastic, motivated and non-judgemental, with a few years of experience under your belt!
Phone 0422 933 423 or email [email protected] for more information.