Mentoring New Zealand Youth in COVID-19 related world
In a COVID-19 world, Kiwis are experiencing new and unprecedented challenges. Now more than ever, young Kiwis need support. We champion this with our charity, the Young Hearts Project. YHP was created with the goal of supporting young Kiwis through the obstacles of life. When you purchase a Deuce sneaker, you contribute towards supporting and empowering youth in Australasia through YHP's partners: Youthline, Great Potentials, The Graeme Dingle Foundation, and headspace. Together we've raised over $1.4million and counting!
The MATES programme run through Great Potentials, supports young Kiwis to reach their full potential through their mentoring programme. We chatted with Peter from MATES on his story as a mentor and supporting youth in a COVID-19 world.
How did you get into mentoring?
"I joined MATES as a mentor while at University, studying a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Arts conjoint. Before university, I worked for voluntary youth and church youth services so stepping into a MATES mentor role felt like a natural next step for me."
What’s one lesson you’ve learned from mentoring?
"When I took on my first mentee at MATES, who was a college student, I thought I had to brush up on my Level 3 English and Geography to help her with her schooling. After meeting with her I learnt that the challenges she was really facing were outside of school: planning her future, negative thoughts and conflicts with other students. I realized that school is the last thing on your mind when you’re dealing with life. To successfully support mentees, you need to build trusting relationships and support them across all challenges in life, not just school.I adapted my session plans to focus on her and only her, starting out by talking about her life and what makes her happy. We used this as the foundation for reflecting and building goals for the future, which resulted in her pursuing something that would make her happy and bring her peace."
What has the impacts of COVID-19 meant for MATES and mentoring?
"COVID-19 affects us all in different ways, and part of my role is to help navigate the new normal for both mentees and mentors. Once the restrictions were lifted and we could attend schools, young Kiwis were adjusting to a completely different society. This reminded me of my first mentee and the importance of focusing on her well-being before we focused on study. With the social issues that the lockdown exposed, I knew I would do the same for our mentees and check in on our other mentors."
What have you found to be helpful for supporting young Kiwis in our new environment?
"We recently went through an exercise in our first sessions back from COVID-19, inspired by how I worked with my first mentee. We reflected on our backgrounds, family trees, what brings us peace and happiness, our dreams, and our motivations. The purpose of this was to ensure we had stability within our well-being and a sense of self-purpose, something we can carry with us no matter the time, context, or environment we are in. In a COVID-19 impacted society, we found this stability to be incredibly helpful for youth. We’ve also learned the importance of checking in on everyone, not just our mentees. Communicating with our mentors and supporting them on the challenges they are facing is essential, especially in a time where the normalcy of young people’s lives has changed."
Peter’s inspiring testimony is one of many stories that show the great work behind those involved in the Young Hearts Project. From us at Deuce, we hope you are keeping safe, healthy and happy. Remember to check in on your loved ones during this time.