Few programmes in New Zealand provide long-term, individualised mentoring on a one to one basis. The opportunity for that kind of mentoring for young women from disadvantaged backgrounds is even less common. That’s what makes YWCA Auckland’s Future Leaders programme so unique, and why they’re looking to recruit more women with the skills and experience needed to make a real difference in the lives of young women.
Kendal Collins is one such woman making a real difference. Kendal spent four years working as a school social worker at Otahuhu College before joining the Future Leaders programme as a coordinator last year. She’s now urging women with similar backgrounds in social work, counselling or teaching to become mentors.
The Future Leaders programme was created to provide young women with skills development, new experiences and opportunities to support them in achieving their goals. This four year individualised leadership programme sees a young woman paired with a volunteer mentor, with activities and workshops planned throughout the year by YWCA Auckland.
Kendal says the kind of woman best suited to Future Leaders is “a woman who is passionate about making a difference in a young woman’s life. A bit of experience with youth, whether it be with your own children, in your work environment, or through your studies, would be perfect.”
Mentors are asked to commit to at least two years in the programme, to ensure continuity for the young women, many of whom have not always had reliable adult role models. “Women need to have the patience and time to guide a young woman during the two to four years of the programme – after all, time is what is most important to a young person,” says Kendal.
The benefits aren’t one-sided either. “Even though it is about helping and guiding the Future Leader, you will find yourself learning a lot from them. They will challenge your own values and ideas, and open you up to a whole other world.”
The programme can also help in a professional sense, providing individual and professional development for those who work with youth in a fun and positive way. “Being a mentor is a very rewarding role. You will have a positive impact on somebody’s life, help them to achieve their goals and watch them grow over the years,” adds Kendal.
Glenda Hoffman, who won the 2014 Mentor of the Year award for the programme, agrees. “You find out so much about how young people think. If you haven’t got kids, it’s a great experience, but even if you do, it’s great to do something for the community, and watch them grow into amazing young women.” Glenda, a primary school teacher, is adamant that becoming a mentor is such a fantastic experience, she would recommend it to anyone.
The next day of mentor training is Saturday 31 January, and will match mentors with students from Onehunga High School and Mt Roskill Grammar School. Mentors from all over Auckland are welcome.
Become a Future Leaders mentor today! Contact the Future Leaders Team Leader Kelsi Cox on 09 522 8219 or via email@example.com to find out how you can make a difference in a young woman’s life.