Engage with Individuals

Engage with Individuals, Families, Groups, Organizations, and Communities.

Hali York
Western Kentucky University

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In social work 381 for the class we had to attend a community event and the one I chose to participate in was the Source of Strengths seminar at Centerstone in Louisville KY. The Source of Strengths seminar was a youth suicide prevention program designed to harness the power of peer social support and networks to change the unhealthy norms in society and culture, preventing suicide, bullying and substance abuse in different areas and communities within the Kentucky region.
By attending this seminar, it was able to help me at my practicum because the population I work with are teenagers at the Boys & Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County. And as an intern at the club I am helping with the mentoring program they just started. Being a teenager is a crucial time in a young person’s life. Research has been conducted and it states that substance abuse and mental health disorders like anxiety and depression are commonly found in teens. “According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 6 in 10 individuals who are substance abusers also have a mental disorder.” (National Institute on Drug Abuse) Adolescence is a challenging time for teenagers because their bodies, brain, and even their home lives may start to change and teens can have a tough time coping with all of this.
The Sources of Strengths seminar was able to show me how important it is to have positive friends, family, and mentors in your life for support to enhance your well being and lead a healthy lifestyle to succeed and flourish as time passes throughout an individuals stages of life.
Since I have started interning at the Boys ; Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County, I am able to see more programs being created that care for and encourage the growth and development for young people’s self-esteem by inspiring them to have a sense of belonging, usefulness, a voice to influence while remaining competent in their club. The Boys & Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County has recently developed a mentoring program for high risk youth.
The mentoring program is funded by a grant provided by the Department of Justice (DOJ), Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP). The mentoring program at the Boys & Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County has developed an approach for formal mentoring practices and research/evidence-based prevention programs. By being able to provide a combination of one-on-one sessions, groups sessions, and peer leader mentoring services. The mentoring program is on site at the Boys & Girls Club with club staff, volunteers, and peers. The one-on-one mentoring is a relationship with one adult and one youth and they should meet on a regular basis to help create a positive and successful relationship.
When mentoring with a group this involves an adult and a small group of youth with the mentor being the group facilitator and making a commitment to meet regularly with the youth. A group mentoring activity that we have at the Boys & Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County would be the cooking club. The cooking club provides a hands-on learning experience to the youth teaching them about healthy food choices and teaching them basic cooking skills. By having this club, it shows the youth how to work together as a team, gives them confidence in cooking and it is a fun and interactive approach while building positive and caring relationships with an adult and their peers.
The peer mentoring program provides youth with the opportunity to have a teaching and guiding relationship with a younger person at the club. For example, one of the teens at the club may tutor or read to an elementary student or play a board game with them. It is important to have youth mentors at the club involved because they serve as positive role models to the younger youth. By adding mentoring to existing programs like Money Matters, Career Launch, Triple Play and Smart Moves at the Boys & Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County. This could increase their effectiveness as time progresses. By having a mentoring program this provides opportunities and value to a young person’s life. Especially those who face several challenges to success.
Mentors can reinforce lessons learned and discuss how each lesson can be applied to real life situations. Since I have had the opportunity to be involved with the mentoring program at the Boys ; Girls Club of Glasgow-Barren County. I have seen truly how important and needed this program is. The mentoring program has been able to keep the club members positively involved in their academic studies at school and by having a mentor to help guide and be there for them they are eager to learn new things and have confidence in their academic abilities.
Mentors are also there to provide support and guidance to keep youth out of trouble by putting a child in direct contact with a caring adult. It can reduce drug use in youth, aggression, symptoms of depression and acts of delinquency.
The smallest things can enhance the overall well-being in a child or adolescences life and leave an enormous impact if they have a positive role model like a mentor behind them. That can be supportive and encouraging to the youth. An active listener makes for a great mentor, I have had so many adolescents tell me that they feel like a lot of adults don’t want to take the time to listen to them because they are looked at as “just kids” or that they feel inferior when presenting ideas in front of an adult because they don’t feel like they will be supported.
Many adolescents appreciate when mentors are pushing them out of there comfort zones because they can see what they are able to accomplish. Where in the past they may have not had enough confidence in their selves to fulfill their dreams and aspirations. Adolescence enjoy seeing that a mentor has an authentic interest in the youth as an individual and that they value the youth’s ideas but accept that they will have changes in their moods and feelings.
Being able to be a good mentor means that they don’t judge an adolescent or put their own beliefs on them. Instead they are there to remind the youth who they are as individuals and help them to foster good decision-making skills. Mentors are also able to lend perspective to the youth by their own experiences in life. They are there to help put those challenges into perspective, when situations in life seem overwhelming. Mentors can help adolescents see both sides of the situation by looking at the positivity in a negative situation.
Mentoring makes for positive youth development and I have seen so many wonderful changes in the youth that are involved in this program at the club. They are happier, have a sense of belonging and purpose in their life, they are more confident in their abilities as individuals and are developing healthy relationships with their peers.
U.S Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs (n.d) Retrieved from https://ojp.gov/Boys ; Girls Club of America (n.d) Retrieved from https://www.bgca.net
Mentoring at the Boys ; Girls Club Power point (n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.bgca.net


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