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Pairing older and younger students also brings benefits

Natural benefits: Jebu Swan reads to P1 mentees at West Pembroke Primary

The Peer Mentoring Programme matches older students with their younger counterparts, within the same school or close by, to provide friendship and support.

One of the most important influences on young people today is peer pressure.

Too often, youngsters copy bad attitudes or make poor lifestyle choices in order to fit in. But, as these students have discovered, positive peer pressure can be a far more powerful and lasting influence!

This programme’s aim is for students to become more confident in their decisions, and better prepared to cope with social challenges and transition to middle and high school.

The mentors gain a greater sense of responsibility, and become better prepared for their own transition into young adulthood.

Peer mentors actively role model positive behaviours and positive decision-making, in volunteering their time to give back to their school community, and by helping other students navigate through familiar challenges.

In return, they also gain credits towards the community service hours they must complete each school year.

Here is what YouthNet’s peer mentees have to say:

• “Learnt all older people, specifically teens, are not scary if you talk to them.

“From the outside many seem scary but have huge hearts inside.”

• “He guides me to do the right choice.”

• “It was nice having an older person to guide me through Year 7.”

• “She was always there to talk to and tell her about my day and she always made me laugh.”

Here is what YouthNet’s peer mentors have to say:

• “It is very rewarding knowing you are helping someone else.”

• “I learnt that just showing up every Tuesday to see my mentee could make such a difference in their day.”

• “We see our mentees around school, so we get to see each other a lot more. If they need us, they always know where to find us.”

• “The reason I signed up was because it addresses an issue that Bermuda has.

“Our youth need to be able to talk to people they trust.

“That’s something we can practice when we are young so that kids grow up with positive role models.”

• “I’ve really enjoyed mentoring and getting to know my mentee. I am able to share my experiences with her and it’s so nice to meet and catch up on life every week. I think I’ve learnt as much from her as she has from me, which personally I find quite rewarding.”

• “I never thought that I would relate and connect with my mentees as much as I do. I love meeting weekly with them and hearing about how everything is going.

“The things I enjoy the most about YouthNet are simply laughing over silly things with my mentees and being a role model for them. It is such a great experience and I am really glad I participated in it!”

Teachers also report on the positive outcomes of peer mentoring, for both students.

One noted: “The younger kids really look up to the older students, so it has a real impact on their lives.

“It also makes a difference to their [mentors] lives.

“Suddenly, you’ve got a little kid looking up to you and you have a sense of responsibility to maybe be a little better yourself.”

Mentoring increases the likelihood of students developing the values, skills, and beliefs that lead to future success.

By partnering with YouthNet, schools can further bring our community needs into focus by enhancing the range of support they can offer to students and to teachers.

Go to youthnetbda.com to learn more, to donate, or to become a mentor! Your donation will go a long way towards supporting YouthNet’s 400 mentoring relationships